Greg van Avermaet got his classics season under way in winning style on Saturday after the Olympic champion beat Peter Sagan, the world road race champion, and Sep Vanmarcke in a three-up sprint to win the 198.3-kilometre Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Van Avermaet, who won his first Omloop Het Nieuwsblad title 12 months ago when he also beat Sagan in a sprint for the line in Flanders, Belgium, later described his victory as "really hard" before admitting the main focus of his spring campaign will be the Tour of Flanders. While Van Avermaet fans will have celebrated the 31-year-old's first solo win of the season, those lining the cobbled route hoping to see compatriot Tom Boonen claim a first Omloop title before he retires in April will have left disappointed.
It’s a lesson athletes have learned the hard way since the beginning of time. Don’t celebrate early. If you do, the lesson goes, you risk losing. Such was the case Friday at the Abu Dhabi Tour when 22-year-old cyclist Caleb Ewan let go of his handlebars to pump a fist in the air only to see veteran rider Marcel Kittel steal his glory. “It was a bit embarrassing more than anything,” Ewan told reporters (via CyclingNews) after the tour’s second stage Friday. “Now I have to go back to my team and explain what I did.” In the long line of premature celebrations, Ewan’s is hardly the most egregious. In cycling alone, there have been far worse scenarios, including at least twice in recent memory when
Andrew Wiggins gets off to a hot start scoring 16 points in the first quarter against the Mavericks.