Leif Hoste, a triple runner-up in the Tour of Flanders, was only an outsider for the win in Meerbeke after failing to show good form this season, but he was encouraged by a strong ride on Sunday.
After being dropped out of the early breakaway on the first stage of the Three Days of De Panne-Koksijde, Hoste bounced back in the Tour of Flanders with a steady performance, featuring near the front of the peloton during the finale and covering his teammate Philippe Gilbert's counter-attack.
"I'm not surprised myself - I said before the race that I would be competitive," Hoste told Cyclingnews. "I did lack a bit of sharpness but I'm satisfied. It was a weird race with the slow start but in the end I was there," Hoste added.
Gilbert was the Omega Pharma-Lotto leader for the Tour of Flanders and he had expressed his annoyance with the lacklustre performances of some teammates. Hoste might have been one of the riders Gilbert was hinting at, but his display in Flanders was impressive.
"Staf Scheirlinckx was very good as well. It's an answer to the criticism we received," Hoste said. When asked whether he had the legs to place better than his 29th place, Hoste explained he didn't have much choice than to sit back in the third group since his teammate Gilbert was in the second group.
"When Phil is gone, what can I do," Hoste replied, indicating that third was the best the team could have done, but they are looking for a better result in next Sunday's Paris-Roubaix. "Well, those two [Cancellara and Boonen] were a level above the others, but surely next week is a big goal. I'll be slightly better and my form should be even better too," Hoste concluded before heading off to his team bus.
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