Although he only showed flashes of form in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, World Champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) believes that his best is just around the corner. The 33-year-old Norwegian finished 33rd, 5:05 down on winner Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) but in a group containing many of the pre-race favourites.
"It was really cold, freezing but I was okay. In the Tour Oman I wasn't exactly super so I was happy I was up there today. I didn't have the legs to follow the best ones but I was always there, which was nice," Hushovd told Cyclingnews after the race.
During the second part of the race, as Boonen made is customary move on the Taaienberg, it was Hushovd, in his rainbow jersey, who did the grunt of the work and led the field back up the Belgian's wheel. Over the next set of climbs he was a constant presence near the front of the bunch but when Langeveld flew and a counter-attack responded, Hushovd was forced to sit up.
"On the important parts I was there and that's important for the first race. I just didn't have the legs to follow the best ones when they attacked."
The fact that he was able to mark Boonen pedal stroke for pedal stroke will give the him encouragement, especially with several weeks before the two will almost certainly clash in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
"It looks like we're at the same level. I've seen him in better form than this and he told me that, too. It's still a long way off for the big goals, six or seven weeks in fact, so we've still got time."
Garmin-Cervélo's first Belgian test
Omloop marked Garmin-Cervelo's first test on cobbles since the Garmin-Transitions and Cervélo TestTeam became one at the end of last year. Essentially a blend of two Classics teams, Hushovd believes that the harmony is already there, and that the banning of race radios has in a sense brought them closer and increased their communication during races.
"I think it worked quite well today. On the key points we were all there. We didn't get the results we wanted but I think that will come later."
As for the radio ban, Hushovd added: "It just makes it more complicated but I'm sure we'd have the same group up the road with or without radios. They just pedalled harder than us."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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