Ninth place for Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad wasn't a true reflection of the Italian's impressive performance. The European road champion failed to make the final winning break that contained eventual champion Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), but Trentin repeatedly battled back into contention after an early crash, a long chase, and several splits.
The crash wasn't the only problem Trentin faced. As he chased back through the convoy of team cars he found that some directors would purposely slow up in order to disrupt his chase. It's common courtesy for team cars to often assist riders - or at least not hamper their chances - if they are coming back from a fall.
"I had a crash after about 70 kilometres and then I needed to get back through the convoy but to be honest a lot of sporting directors aren't sporting at all. And on purpose. Some were doing it on purpose, making gaps.
"For my fall, I just went off the road. I tried to avoid something on the side of the road but just flipped over the bike. It wasn't anything serious but it was painful in the beginning and it probably took its toll."
Once Trentin returned to the peloton, he moved through the bunch and made one of the key splits over the top of the Molenberg with just under 40km remaining. However, a crash involving Lotto Soudal's Tiesj Benoot, some 10 kilometres later, split the group with Stybar and five others forging clear.
Trentin was forced to wait for reinforcements and was unable to regain contact with the front group. He would eventually take ninth on the line, despite the best efforts from his teammates, most notably Luke Durbridge, in mounting a chase.
"It was chaotic in the race and I was a bit dropped on the Berendries. I got back and was a bit unlucky to be caught in the split after the crash with Benoot. Then the riders left in the front were really strong. We tried to close it in the end but it didn't work."
Trentin has enjoyed one of his best starts to a season in recent years. He won a stage in Valenciana, and then backed that up with two stages in the Ruta del Sol. Arriving in Omloop, the 29-year-old was brimming with confidence but after being placed on the backfoot throughout his first outing on the cobbles it was difficult for the Italian to say precisely where his form is. Luckily, he can obtain a more detailed analysis after Sunday's Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
"It's hard to say where my form is because I had to chase for a long time. Even when I was coming back through the cars it wasn't easy. We'll see tomorrow and that will create a clearer picture."
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