Fi'zi:k enjoy success at cobbled classics

fi’zi:k enjoyed a successful start to the spring classics campaign with three riders atop the podia at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Saturday) and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (Sunday). Sep Vanmarcke (fi’zi:k saddles and Cannondale-Drapac) and Luke Rowe (fi’zi:k Arione R1) took third in the respective Belgian races with Greg Van Avermaet (fi’zi:k Antares 00 and BMC Racing) grabbing the headlines with victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Van Avermaet unleashed a stunning sprint to leave Peter Sagan and Vanmarcke in his wake as the 31-year-old repeated his Omloop success of 2016. ‘I had confidence that I could win in a sprint on this finish and, in the end, it was a good sprint,’ Van Avermaet said after the race. ‘I’m really happy with what I did today.’

With 42.1km to go, the final three plus Alexis Gougeard (fi’zi:k Arione VSX) caught and joined the day’s breakaway, and then heading up the Lippenhovestraat – the last significant stretch of cobbles remaining – the final three broke free. Despite the peloton featuring thoroughbreds like Rowe and Ian Stannard (fi’zi:k Arione R1), they couldn’t respond. Rowe would finish sixth with a clearly fatiguing Stannard easing off the throttle to finish well down the pack.

Come Sunday and the second day of racing in Belgium’s opening weekend, many of the teams featured the same line-ups as Saturday. That meant riders like Rowe had another chance to make the headlines. And the 26-year-old Welshman certainly did that in style, claiming the first classics podium of his career, finishing third behind winner Sagan.

“[In the cobbled classics] I’ve had a fourth, fifth, sixth… an eighth, ninth and 11th,” a buzzing Rowe said after the race. “So now to get a third and podium is that next level up. I’m knocking on the door and not that far away.”

On a busy weekend of racing, fi’zi:k’s Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) finished second at the final stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, following up his first victory of the season earlier in the race.