Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha kicked off the spring classics season in style, soloing to the finish line to become the first Spanish winner of the Belgian semi-classic, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Late in the race Flecha joined a six-man escape that had a small advantage over the field. The Spaniard counter-attacked a hard charge from 2008 winner Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) over the Lange Munt cobbles, 20km from the finish of the 204km race originally known as Het Volk.
Flecha pointed to the sky before firing off his signature bow-and-arrow victory salute. He later explained that he dedicated his win to the memory of the late Frank Vandenbroucke, the 1999 winner of Het Volk. “Yes, my team is Sky, but I am sure he is up there, too.” Flecha told reporters after the race. Flecha said he was proud to be “the first Spaniard to win this beautiful race.” Cervélo’s Heinrich Haussler and Garmin’s Tyler Farrar led the chase group across the line, fighting up to the line for second-place honors.
1. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sp), Sky
2. Heinrich Haussler (G), Cervélo TestTeam, at 0:35
3. Tyler Farrar (USA),Garmin-Transitions, at 0:35
4. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Sky, at 0:35
5. Marcel Sieberg (G), HTC-Columbia, at 0:35
2000 – Johan Museeuw (B), Mapei-Quick Step
2001 – Michele Bartoli (I), Mapei-Quick Step
2002 – Peter Van Petegem (B), Lotto-Adecco
2003 – Johan Museeuw (B), Quick Step-Davitamon
2004 – Canceled due to snow
2005 – Nick Nuyens (B), Quick Step-Innergetic
2006 – Philippe Gilbert (B), Française des Jeux
2007 – Filippo Pozzato (I), Liquigas
2008 – Philippe Gilbert (B), Française des Jeux
2009 – Thor Hushovd (N), Cervélo TestTeam