On Sunday afternoon, Hofland survived the cut during the ascent of the famous cobbled Oude Kwaremont climb and ended up riding in an elite group of 10 riders. The group featured five riders from the Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team, including top gun Tom Boonen and that ended up to be too many for Hofland and his two Belkin Pro Cycling teammates Sep Vanmarcke and Maarten Wynants. In the final sprint, Hofland sat on the wheel of Boonen. He managed to get out off it and gain ground back on Boonen but came up short by half a wheel.
"He was strong, Tom Boonen," Hofland said, laughing. "I came quite close, but there was a gap when he launched his sprint. I knew it was a headwind, so I had to come out late but he was a bit too strong for me but that's nothing to be ashamed of; it's Tom Boonen who beat me."
Last week, Hofland won the fourth stage in the Vuelta a Andalucia (Ruta del Sol) in a bunch sprint. Now he's excelling in the Spring Classics.
"I felt good the last few weeks but I didn't expect to be that good. Finishing on the podium for the first time in a one-day Classic is super nice. I can't wish for more. If you would've said this a month ago I would not have believed it."
"I was the dedicated sprinter and the goal was to survive during the race and sprint for the victory while Sep and others would try to go in the breakaways. I felt really great and managed to follow these guys on the Oude Kwaremont. Riding along with these guys is really special. We reached the top and there was a gap. I looked around and saw Tom Boonen, Sep, all good riders so I realized it was possibly the decisive move and it turned out that way," Hofland said.
From the Oude Kwaremont there were still about 70km to cover. "It was really far. We captured a minute and we had to work hard - almost to the last corner - to hold it. In the sprint, Tom Boonen was too strong."
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