Classic specialists test their legs in Kuurne

Midway through Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne there were some accelerations from the classics specialists on the Oude Kwaremont but at the end of the day a bunch sprint concluded the race on the Brugsesteenweg in Kuurne with Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) as winner. For Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quickstep), Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Ian Stannard (Sky) the donkey race in Kuurne ended up being a good training ride.

When approaching the Oude Kwaremont, Tom Boonen accelerated a couple of times to make the race harder. Vanmarcke accelerated fiercely on the cobbles of the Oude Kwaremont. His acceleration created the 20-man lead group that rode ahead of the peloton for a while. The group also included Tom Boonen while Stannard was pulling his sprinter Elia Viviani along. Alexander Kristoff and Philippe Gilbert had to work hard but managed to make the cut as well.

Once there was a regrouping Vanmarcke still planned to launch an attack in the final kilometres but eventually he opted to work for his team's sprinter Tom Van Asbroeck, who eventually finished fourth.

"After the Oude Kwaremont we rode away with a large group of about twenty riders. Some riders were hiding in the group. That made sense because they wanted to save themselves for the sprint. I told Maarten Wynants that I would stop working too because someone had to be able to ride the finale. On the local laps I decided that we would go for Tom [Van Asbroeck]. I noticed during the first lap that there wasn't enough crosswinds. Then I said that I would be the last man to lead out the sprint," Vanmarcke said.

The Belgian looked back on a good weekend in which he managed a fifth place in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Vanmarcke had been chasing the peloton for twenty kilometres before chasing the lead group of four riders for another forty kilometres. "The form is very good but the results weren't there. Yesterday much more was possible but due to bad luck it didn't happen. With the eye on the upcoming weeks it's good to know my form is very good. Today I wasn't as good as Saturday. Another time trial of 60 kilometres wasn't possible. It created a lot of fatigue yesterday. Everybody seemed tired after yesterday's race," Vanmarcke said.

While Vanmarcke and Boonen were putting the hammer down in front Stannard took his time to move up. The winner of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday was working for his team's sprinter on Sunday. "We wanted a sprint for Viviani. I saw Tom and some of the other guys going. I just had to shut that gap, really. Otherwise they could've gone and that could've been the end of the race. I was aware of Viviani just behind me. I didn't blow him of the wheels there. It was difficult with the crosswinds there. I just took my time and slowly came back," Stannard told Cyclingnews.

Etixx-Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevre commented after the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad that he expected from a team leader like Stannard to share the work in the four-man lead group, even with three Etixx-Quick Step riders in there. On Sunday Boonen checked whether Stannard would take some pulls and after a while he did so.

"Once Viviani came into the group I was happy to work and put in a good amount of work. Lefevre? I'd love to see what he would do in that position with three Sky-riders and one of his riders. It's bike racing. They got their tactics wrong in the end of the day and made it quite easy for me. Not that it's easy to win against these guys. They kind of gave it to me a bit on a plate. He's disappointed and just the comments that come out as well. I don't really think into it," Stannard said.

After the race Boonen briefly talked with the media after the race while sitting in the doorway of the team bus in Kuurne. Boonen rode a good weekend and offered his view on his rivals. "Sep is also good. I didn't see him a lot yesterday. On the Oude Kwaremont I don't think he went full gas. At least, I wasn't going full gas so if Sep says he did then that means," Boonen joked. "Phil was very good too, other than that...," Boonen said before the door twice shut and opened, causing animosity and putting an end to the interview, offering time to the multiple awaiting fans. 

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