Welcome to your Kingdom, to Stardom, to God-like status Nick Nuyens, cause you’ve won the Ronde Van Vlaanderen. Nuyens whose career seems revitalized with Saxo Bank, won the three up sprint between himself Sylvain Chavanel and Fabian Cancellara with Tom Boonen closing hard.
The race, which almost seemed to unfold as expected, finished with a surprise ending. With Sylvain Chavanel up the road, Fabian Cancellara took off on the Leberg, with 40km to go, and left everyone in his wake. The Fabian show was on and he blew the race apart smashing himself into a lead of 40 seconds on the chase group in no time. BUT, Fabian himself, was chasing. Cancellara caught a strategically perfect Sylvain Chavanel pretty quickly, however, and the classy Frenchman latched onto Fabian and rode his draft.
The lead climbed steadily to near a minute, although a now formed peloton of about 30 riders was mashing hard, and with Sylvain not doing any work at all with the Muur van Geraardsbergen looming. At the Muur, the lead came crashing down and Fabian and Sylvain were eventually caught by the summit. A new group formed which looked dangerous and contained amongst others Nuyens, Boonen, Flecha, Gilbert, Ballan, Langeveld, Leukemans and Devolder.
The finale looked to be set for a perfect series of attacks with everyone knowing that although Boonen may not be a true sprinter anymore he had this thing locked up if it arrived in a group. First, Gilbert went and it looked good, then Langeveld which looked less dangerous, then Ballan but ultimately it was Fabian again who seemed to be struggling on the climbs but had the power to launch. Chavanel marked him, constantly looking over his shoulder for Boonen and in the final km with Cancellara spent and Chavanel caught up Nuyens launched his own timely sprint. Flecha, who faded, and Boonen were less than 200m behind with Boonen coming hard, Fabian had blown and Chavanel was closing… just a hair too late. Nick Nuyens, somehow… out of nowhere, will be everywhere, as the Belgian took the line first in Belgium’s biggest race.
2011 Ronde Van Vlaanderen Top Ten
1. Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank)__________6h00’46”
2. Sylvain Chavanel (Quickstep)
3. Fabian Cancellara (Leopard)
4. Tom Boonen (Quickstep)__________+:02″
5. Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank)____+:05″
6. George Hincapie (BMC)
7. Bjorn Leukamans (VancanSoleil)
8. Staf Scheirlinckx (VWA)
9. Philippe Gilbert (Lotto)
10. Geraint Thomas (Sky)