The classics season gets off to an early start today with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, a 200 km race that begins and ends in Ghent. A very strange feeling to start a classics season without Rabobank as a team sponsor. Sponsors come and go, of course, but Rabobank was such a constant presence for so many years. It's nearly as difficult to imagine cycling without Rabobank as it is to imagine the sport (or any other professional sport, for that matter) free of PEDs.
And your winner is ... Luca Paolini of Team Kathusha. Somewhat surprisingly, he and Omega's Stijn Vandenbergh managed to keep a half-minute advantage over a seemingly powerful chasing group, including the likes of Sylvain Chavanel, Geraint Thomas, and Greg Van Avermaet, for the final 10 kilometers of the race. Paolini took the two-main sprint without much of a challenge from Vandenbergh.