Nick Nuyens Sprints to Win in 2011 Tour of Flanders
Team Saxo Bank-SunGard's Nick Nuyens (Belgium) won the Belgian Tour of Flanders 2011 cycling classic from a three-man break earlier today.
Team Saxo Bank-SunGard's Belgian Nick Nuyens won the 2011 Tour of Flanders cycling classic on Sunday, beating France's Sylvain Chavanel (Team QuickStep) and last year's winner Fabian Cancellara of Team Leopard-Trek) in a three-way sprint to the line. (Want the same cycling training diary/log as used by Tour of Flanders race winner Nick Nuyens? Sign up for the premium version of our cycling training diary service at http://www.roadcycling.com/diary now!)
In an unpredictable finish, 12 riders still had a chance with 3 kilometers (2 miles) to go, but Swiss rider Cancellara forced a final breakaway.
Nuyens won the 256-kilometer (159-mile) race over the rolling hills and cobblestone roads of northern Belgium in an unofficial time of 6 hours, 0 minutes, 42 seconds.
Twice-winner Tom Boonen finished fourth a few seconds back, ahead of Dutchman Sebastian Langeveld (Team Rabobank) and American veteran George Hincapie (Team BMC Racing).
Cancellara was the overwhelming favorite to take his second straight Tour of Flanders. However, with 20 kilometers (12 miles) to go, the Swiss rider showed a moment of weakness on a breakaway with Chavanel and allowed the other favorites, including Nuyens, to come back.
"Even if you are super strong, you are beatable," Cancellara commented.
Nuyens is known for his tactical acumen and played it to perfection on Sunday, sensing Cancellara still had something left in him in the three-way sprint finish.
"It was the moment, my muscles were almost exploding, but I had to get hold of his wheel," Nuyens stated. In the sprint, he just held off Chavanel.
"It's the day I've been looking forward to in years. It's the victory I have been training so many hours for to be able to take and here it was. Today, I kept away from the front for a long time and closing the gap to the two in front took a lot of energy from my side. But when I saw Cancellara and Chavanel, I knew it was possible to beat them all. On the finish line, I was going tremendously deep in myself to go past but I knew all along it was possible," Nuyens told Roadcycling.com and Roadcycling.mobi after the finish.
Nuyens is very thankful for the support he has received from his team and from Saxo Bank-SunGard team owner Bjarne Riis who has given Nuyens room to focus on this season goal and helped him achieve it.
"Thanks to Bjarne (Riis) and the whole team I was able to achieve this win. They have believed in them right from the start and have given me peace to work and think about this great season goal and I'm truly happy to be able to pay back their trust like this," Nuyens concluded.
France's Chavanel had been involved in most of the race and was one of the early breakaways. Cancellara emerged from the pack with 40 kilometers (25 miles) to chase him down on his own.
The Olympic time trial champion imposed a pace that none of the other chasers could match and, with 35 kilometers (22 miles) to go, it was Cancellara taking Chavanel in his slipstream toward the finish.
Their lead quickly built to a minute, with the Swiss rider doing all the work. Chavanel held back because his QuickStep team leader Boonen was in the chasing group.
Cancellara, however, had been so dominant over the past two years that he appeared unlikely to need any help. He had already proven it last week by winning the semi-classic E3 Prize over similar terrain.
This time it didn't work, and the chasers cut down the margin from a minute within a few kilometers (miles) to catch Cancellara and Chavanel on the Wall of Geraardsbergen, the toughest climb on all.
It set up the finale with a dozen riders and gave the 30-year-old Nuyens the biggest win of his career during his first year with Team Saxo Bank-SunGard.
The Ronde van Vlaanderen classic holds very high status in Belgium.
Click here for complete 2011 Tour of Flanders results.
Want the same cycling training diary/log as used by Tour of Flanders race winner Nick Nuyens? Sign up for the premium version of our cycling training diary service at http://www.roadcycling.com/diary now!