March 20, 2008 (Oudenaarde, Belgium) – The race started in Oudenaarde and as we were only five minutes away from the start there was no stress getting there. The weather was between 4-7Â°C, with a strong north wind, nice sunshine for once, with a very brief light hail. The race course: 196.9km, one lap of 16.5km, than 32.4km over the Tiegemberg to Nokere to end with 10 laps of 14.6km. Repetition (10 laps) and finish on the Nokereberg 400m of cobblestone at 6%.
A small break away of three riders got away 6km into the race. They stayed away until there were about 2-3 laps to go – around 30km to the finish. At some point they were at 9 to 10 minutes ahead of the peloton.
The peloton rolled along calmly for the first 100km. All of our Team RACE Pro riders were well-positioned during most of the race and everybody was feeling good. Buck Miller went to the front for couple laps to cover a gap when a Credit Agricole tried to bridge with +/-60km to go. At four laps to go what we all expected happened… Rabobank showed up at front and opened up the machine.
Within a lap they took over six minutes on the breakaway and split the peloton into two main groups with several more echelons behind that never returned to the bunch. Our riders had difficulties to stay up front and lost contact with the main group.
Most riders were disappointed not being able to stay in position and missed the train.
Belgium’s Wouter Weylandt of Quick Step won the final sprint with a time of 4.48.31 (40.759 km/h) – 104 riders riders finished out of a 193 starters.
Now the guys are looking forward to Tour de Normandie, a challenging UCI stage race along the North West coast of France starting Monday, March 24.