On paper Dimension Data headed into the Opening Weekend with one of the most competitive squads. They boasted last year's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Michael Valgren, perennial Classics contender Edvald Boasson Hagen, an injury-free Giacomo Nizzolo and a strong support squad that included Julien Vermote and Lars Bak.
However, due to illness the team failed to post a single finisher in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, while Valgren could only manage 45th in his defence of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. For a team on the up after two early-season wins, the Opening Weekend brought them back to earth with a bump.
Valgren had been honest enough on the eve of Omloop to admit that he had been sick in the week leading up to the race. The Danish rider, who joined from Astana during the winter, told Cyclingnews at the start of Saturday's race that he just recovered from a cold. However, the Opening Weekend clearly came too soon for him and his teammates.
"We weren't good today. The preparation wasn't good at all because we were all sick after Algarve," a disappointed Vermote told Cyclingnews after Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
"Michael, Edvald and myself, we were all sick. Because of that we know why we weren't there. It's a pity because we didn't come to Belgium to not finish the races.
"We're all disappointed and we're all sportsmen. If you're sick then it's normal that this happens. We're human and if you're sick you can't expect wonders. Yesterday wasn't the best but things can't change in one day."
While Deceuninck-QuickStep dominated both races through wins for Zdenek Stybar and Bob Jungels, the Dimension Data riders were forced to lick their wounds. The positive news is that there is always another race on the horizon and Vermote will head to Paris-Nice next week.
By that point he should be fully recovered from the flu and fever he suffered. The Belgian will be joined by Valgren and Boasson Hagen in France, while another Dimension Data team head to Tirreno-Adriatico before the Classics come into view once more with Milan-San Remo.
"We just need to keep our morale high and after Paris-Nice and Tirreno Adriatico we can take a new start."
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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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