Stannard's confidence rising ahead of Het Nieuwsblad defence

When the 27-year-old Ian Stannard (Team Sky), drenched to the bone, face caked in dirt, pipped Greg Van Avermaet to the line at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, it seemed like a seminal moment in his career. Here was a man who was throwing off the lingering tag as the hardy workhorse and showing himself to be a rider who wins big bike races. It was the first Classic of the season, and there was genuine excitement about what he might go on to achieve.

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Patrick Fletcher

Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist, and former deputy editor of Cyclingnews, who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.