The Dutchman Sebastian Langeveld wrote his name into the history books on the wet streets of Ghent by capturing a thrilling Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The Rabobank rider won the sprint by millimeters ahead of Juan Antonio Flecha, the winner of last year. Mathew Hayman won the sprint for third place. The Belgians showed themselves early in the game, but played no significant role in the final stages with Jurgen Roelandts the best Belgian in ninth.
At 11:35, in the Ghent Saint Peter’s Square, the peloton rolled out for the 66th edition of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The riders had previously threatened to strike because of the team radio ban by the UCI, but ultimately rolled out for the Semi-Classic. Despite poor weather the racing started immediately with Delfosse, Caethoven, Van Vooren, Schmitz, Saramotins, Ladagnous and Sebastien Chavanel forming the traditional early break. The seven built a maximum lead of over eight minutes, but from the first three passages of the Hague Angle the peloton gave chase.
Over the Oak Mill and Calvary the favorites were still quiet, but on the Taaienberg Tom Boonen decided that the time had come to test the competition. The leader of Quick Step surged at the front with Stijn Devolder getting dropped – later ending up in a chasing group and never again making it to the head of the race. Meanwhile, the Boonen group picked up the early escapees one by one.
Shortly after the Eikenberg, at 50 km from the finish, Sebastian Langeveld broke clear of the depleted leading group. The Dutch Rabobank rider instantly took a half minute ahead of the big guns and built the margin on the cobblestones at Wolvenberg. While Boonen, Gilbert and the other eyed each other, Flecha decided to try to close the alarmingly growing gap. The Spanish winner of last year took Paolini, Quinziato and Roelandts along with him.
On top of the Molenberg the lead of Langeveld had grown to more than one minute, but in the meantime Flecha went on the attack. The Spaniard dropped Roelandts and company on the cobblestones of the Paddestraat and closed the gap to Langeveld with 15-kilometers to go. In the background Boonen, Hushovd, Gilbert and other favorites turned off the chase
At five kilometers from the finish Flecha tried to surprise the Dutchman with a risky breakaway but the Rabobank rider held the wheel of the Spaniard. In the final sprint for the line Langeveld took the victory by millimeters over Flecha. For the twenty six year-old Rabobank rider it was the biggest win of his career.