Team Sky turned up for opening weekend with three debutants for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and despite four of the seven riders for the team not finishing the race in the freezing conditions, the British squad will be satisfied with second place on the day.
Łukasz Wiśniowski chased back to a select group following Sep Vanmarcke's (EF Education First-Drapac) attack on the Muur van Gerardsbergen, and managed to win the bunch sprint to take second place to Michael Valgren (Astana Pro Team), whose late attack won the Dane the race.
Owain Doull, who endured a far tougher start to the 2017 campaign following surgery on a burst appendix, sprinted to 11th in the finale and the result gives the Welshman promise for the upcoming season.
"It was alright, I suffered a bit all day," Owain Doull told Cyclingnews while cooling down after the race, "I was just pinned most of the time but I think it was the same for everybody.
"It was good though, obviously Lukasz [Wisniowski] was second, I think I made the top ten [Doull finished 11th – Ed.], so all in all, a pretty good day considering we haven't got our main Classics guys here, it's not our full squad.
"We've still got Yogi [Ian Stannard], Kwiato [Michal Kwiatkowski], Gianni [Moscon], a lot of big guys still to come in so we're pretty happy with that.
"I didn't feel amazing but I didn't think anyone was, it's the weather. It's a shame about Dylan [Van Baarle] he was having a shit time, but not a bad day."
Of the eight spring Classics Doull raced in 2017, the then neo-pro only managed three finishes, of which one was over the time limit but finishing 11th in the first Classic of 2018 looks to be a sign of a stronger season in the works.
"I've had way better prep this year, this time last year I was in Abu Dhabi starting my season and even there I was pretty cooked. I've come here and already I'm in pretty good nick. I have had a good block of racing in Down Under, also Algarve I'm really happy actually with how the legs are and hopefully I can be part of the squad for the bigger races."
Sprinting for second
Lukasz Wisniowski was perhaps the biggest surprise of the day. Several times the Pole looked to be distanced from the final select group and several times the Pole managed to drag himself back into contention.
In the final kilometre, the chasing group swamped the lead group but in spite of the earlier efforts, Wisniowski managed to sprint for second place and in doing so achieved his biggest result to date.
Speaking to Team Sky after the race Wisniowski said, "For a long time I've not had a top-three finish in a race and I'd like to thank all my teammates that helped me earn this result.
Team Sky's directeur sportif for the race added, "It's a fantastic result for Lukasz. He rode really well in Algarve, working for the team, and today he had his own result which is really great for him and great for the team - a good start to the season.
"He was maybe not the one that everyone expected, as Dylan was our leader, but he had some bad luck at an unfortunate moment [with a puncture].