Monday, 01st March 2021 – The Belgian cycling season kicked off with the first cobbled classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
The day started with a breakaway of five riders, gaining an advantage of over 8 minutes. At 53km, our rider Sonny Colbrelli crashed, putting him out of contention for the race win. The breakaway was caught later in the race as the pace picked up with attacks coming off the front of the peloton.
Coming to the top of the final climb, a big group was still together, leading to an unusual bunch sprint finish for the race. An impressive effort from Heinrich Haussler saw him finish fourth: “It was a different race today just because of the headwind. I thought it could actually be a sprint today already, like 50-60 km before the finish. It was cold and hectic, many crashes, and we lost a lot of guys early in the race, but we really wanted to get a good result, and I stayed there somehow. It wasn’t really much wind, but there was a headwind. Usually, at the Opening Weekend, we have like only 3-4 degrees, rain crosswinds, like ice, really filthy conditions, but this year it wasn’t like that. Anyway, it was a tough race. I mean, I’m 37 years old, and getting fourth today is a great result for me. I love these races, and I’ve been working so hard this winter to be good and to get a result like this just proves that my winter has been good”.
The day after, on Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, it was a day dominated by a breakaway that was only reeled in with 2km to go by impressive work from Heinrich Haussler, Dylan Teuns and Marco Haller. Bridging the gap put Sonny Colbrelli in an excellent position for the sprint crossing the line in 6th.
Colbrelli was satisfied with the result after the crash on Omloop: “After my crash and problems at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race on Saturday and slight injury, I started easily on Kuurne. I was not reactive before the Kwaremont, but then I was safe and in a good position because Heino, Dylan and Marco closed the gap and put me in the last 300 meters for the sprint. I can be satisfied with 6th place. The whole team did a great job. I am positive looking towards the next races for sure”.
Sports Director Rolf Aldag gave us his overall thoughts after Classics Openers in Belgium: “From the opening Classics weekend here in Belgium, from my point of view, we always want to win. We had some ambitions here, and I think we had a talented team that can win, so we’re working hard on it; we worked together as a strong team, especially in Kuurne. It’s all about commitment, and at the end of the day, if the legs are good and the team spirit is there, then the victories would come. We had a good meeting the day before where we knew that there was a podium possible. Our riders really liked that game together. They came together as a group, and I think they’ve shown really promising shape for the upcoming races. With such an approach, we can never lose. We are sure we will have better days ahead of us. It is always a learning process in life, and certainly, professional cycling is that you learn something new every day. It was really important for us to get here to be ready to be competitive at this Opening Weekend. We will work on details for the rest of the classics”.
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