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GENT-WEVELGEM

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29.03.2015 @ 14:40 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After yesterday's clash between the major favourites for the Tour of Flanders, the biggest classics specialists step into the background in tomorrow's third leg of the holy period of Flemish racing, Gent-Wevelgem. While the race may be one of the most prestigious on the calendar, the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Sep Vanmarcke, Greg Van Avermaet and Sylvain Chavanel will mainly use the cobbled climbs to get a last gauge of their form and instead the biggest sprinters fancy their chances to have a rare shot at classics glory.

 

The holy period of Belgian cycling continues with the race that is often seen as number 3 in the hierarchy of cobbled races. Due to its long history, Gent-Wevelgem is regarded as being just below the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix when it comes to prestige and there is a lot at stake when they riders roll out from Deinze just west of Gent to follow the traditional route to the finish in Wevelgem.

 

While the race belongs to the list of the biggest cobbled races, however, the nature of the racing will change compared to what we have seen in the Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 and what we will see next Sunday in the Tour of Flanders. Taking place in a different part of the country than those races and featuring a longer flat stretch in the end, the race may be one of the cobbled classics but it is one that the sprinters can realistically dream about.

 

What makes the race so important is its long history. First held in 1934, it started as a junior race and was later open for independent amateur riders before it turned into an event for professionals after World War II. As most other Belgian races, the early years were dominated by the home riders but it quickly became a part of cycling's most coveted races. Big Belgian riders like Rik van Looy, Eddy Merckx,  Freddy Maertens, and Walter Godefroot were among the early winners but from Bernard Hinault's 1977 victory, the race became a truly international event with a very diverse list of winners that include several different nationalities and a mixture of fast finishers and classics riders like John Degenkolb, Peter Sagan, Tom Boonen, Oscar Freire, Mario Cipollini, Thor Hushovd, and Djamolidine Abdoujaparov who have all stood atop the podium in the race's modern history.

 

The race has been held at different times in the spring and its course has seen several variations but it has always been an important part of the Belgian spring schedule. In its early years, it joined forces with the Omloop Het Volk (now Omloop Het Nieuwsblad) to form a series called Trofee van Vlaanderen and it is an integral part of the unique race series that makes up the Flemish classics.

 

Even though it is part of the Belgian spring season, however, it is a very different race from the Tour of Flanders and Friday's E3. The Flemish races may be divided into two categories.  In the first category, the Tour of Flanders, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and E3 are races for the hard men and classics specialists. These are the true Flemish classics as they are designed in the same way. The course map is a complicated affair as the riders zigzag their way through a rather small area in the Flemish Ardennes, heading back and forth and often using the same roads numerous times. All the famous hellingen known from the Tour of Flanders are located in this small area and it is easy for the organizers to make changes from year to year, varying the climbs used for the different editions of the race, as tradition doesn't put too many restraints on their opportunities

 

The second category of races contains Gent-Wevelegem, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, and Scheldeprijs. The names of the first two races dictate much of their courses and instead of zigzagging their way through the Flemish Ardennes, the races have much more of a point-to-point format. This makes it harder for them to utilize the tiny area in the Flemish Ardennes where all the major difficulties are located and this makes the races substantially easier. The Scheldeprijs is not a point-to-point race but doesn't contain a single climb. These races are much more suited to the sprinters than the "real" Flemish classics.

 

In fact, Gent-Wevelgem takes place in a different part of Belgium than the races from the first category. In the past, the race has travelled through the Flemish Ardennes and covered many of the Tour of Flanders hellingen but the race has mostly completely avoided this part of Belgium. Instead, it brings the riders from the start to the coast along the North Sea and a southern journey down to the Belgian-French border. Here, the race tackles its landmark climbs, with the Kemmelberg being by far the most iconic. The race ends with a long flat run to Wevelgem, meaning that the sprinters face a much easier race than they do in most of the other Flemish classics.

 

Nonetheless, Gent-Wevelgem has been regarded as the third big cobbled classic and even though it wasn't part of the now defunct World Cup, it was included in the ProTour and its successor, the WorldTour, right from their beginning.

 

For many years, however, the race played an unfortunate role as a midweek race in between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. While most of the biggest stars were at the start line, they preferred to stay safe and often abandoned at the midpoint at it was all about recovery for Sunday's big battle in Roubaix.

 

Things changed for the 2010 edition when UCI made a major reshuffle of the classics schedule that partly served the purpose of reestablishing some of Gent-Wevelgem's prestige and make more synergy between the races. The race was moved to the Sunday before Tour of Flanders and now forms a perfect warm-up weekend for De Ronde with the E3 which takes place two days earlier.

 

The change has certainly been beneficial for the race but the race is still not a real target for the big classics riders. With the E3 resembling the Tour of Flanders much more, the Flanders favourites prefer to use Friday's race as the big test while they often use Gent-Wevelgem as more of a training race where they test their condition on the race's climbs but don't go all out for a result. On the other hand, the race is usually a genuine objective for the sprinters who have a rare chance to add a big classic to their palmares.

 

In an attempt to make the race more attractive for the classics riders, the organizers tried to make the course tougher by adding more climbs in the hilly zone. The changes made it more difficult for the pure sprinters to prevail but it didn't prompt the classics stars to come to the fore. Apart from a brutal 2010 edition held in rainy conditions, the race has not been overly selective despite the modifications. Last year the organizers realized that they won't be able to compete with the E3 for the attention from the likes of Fabian Cancellara and Sep Vanmarcke and so they have returned the route to a more traditional format. This means that the race is now again a more obvious target for the sprinters, a fact which has been embraced by Mark Cavendish who has again made the race the centrepiece of his cobbled classics campaign.

 

Last year the race had a very traditional format as the final early escapee was caught during the second passage of the Kemmelberg. Sep Vanmarcke accelerated on the climb but after the top, a regrouping took place. This started a very aggressive phase with numerous attacks and it was finally the trio of Stijn Devolder, Silvan Dillier and Andrey Amador that escaped. With several sprinters still in contention, the chase got organized and it all came down to a sprint after the break was caught with just 1km to go. After André Greipel had crashed out with a broken collarbone, John Degenkolb beat Arnaud Demare and Peter Sagan to win his first cobbled classic. The German will be back to defend his title while Sagan will try to finish on the podium for the third year in a row and Demare will try to finally take a big classics win.

 

The course

As said, the organizers seem to once and for all have shelved the idea of competing against E3 about being the Tour of Flanders dress rehearsal. Without completely changing the nature of the race, it would never be possible to design a route whose toughness would be able to match the one found in E3, and so last year's course returned to an easier format after a few years with repeated attempts to make things harder. The race still includes more climbs than it did earlier in the century but it certainly isn't as difficult as it was in 2013.

 

Compared to last year, the course is almost unchanged. A few minor modifications means that the distance will be increased from 233 to 240.2km, putting it closer to the biggest classics when it comes to distance. However, the number and order of climbs is unchanged and so the race will be very similar to last year’s

 

As it is the case for most races whose name is made up of its start and finishing cities, Gent-Wevelgem no longer starts in Ghent as the shorter distances of modern day racing dictate a new point of departure. Nowadays, the riders head out from Deinze west of Ghent to start the 240.2km race, with the distance making it one of the longest races on the calendar just behind the five monuments.

 

The start of the race always follows the same format as the riders travel in a westerly direction until they reach the North Sea after 69.8km of racing. The part of the course is completely flat but may actually serve as scene of one of the most important parts of the race. On a calm day, it will just serve to make the distance longer and allow the early break to take off but if it is windy, the race can be rather dramatic right from the beginning. In 2013 the race split to pieces on this section and most of the field had lost all options even before they had reached the coast.

 

In Adinkerke, the riders turn left to continue in a southerly direction towards the border. If the wind direction wasn't right in the first part of the race, it could very well be the case on this flat stretch. This part leads to the border and the start of the hilly zone where it is time to launch the crucial attacks and try to put the sprinters into difficulty.

 

With 118km to go, the riders reach the city of Cassel where they do a small loop that sends them up the Casselberg twice. From now on, it is time to be well-positioned as there will be little room for recovery and as the roads are very narrow, there won't be much chance to move up. This is the really stressful part of the race and already from the Casselberg, we usually see several attacks while several teams may be keen to set a high tempo to tire out and possibly drop the sprinters.

 

The riders continue in a easterly direction towards Wevelgem, passing the Catsberg with 97km to go. In the past, the riders went up the Kotkereelberg after that climb but this ascent has been skipped. Instead, they continue directly to the trio of climbs that define Gent-Wevelgem.

 

The Baneberg, Kemmelberg, and Monteberg come in quick succession with 88km, 80km, and 76km to go respectively, and this is where it is time to make a selection. The best classics riders usually use the Kemmelberg which is the hardest of the ascents, to test their legs. In the past, the riders went down a very treacherous cobbled descent that caused some dramatic crashes but after one of those horrific incidents, the organizers decided to send them down a paved downhill section which has made the race much safer for the riders. After the Monteberg, it is time to take stock of the situation but usually, some kind of regrouping takes place.

 

The riders now do a small loop before going back up those three climbs but last  year, that section was made slightly longer, meaning that there is more time for recovery and repositioning for the sprinters. However, this part of the course may also be used to launch attacks as the peloton is usually completely strung out at this point and no team is likely to have much control.

 

The final passages of the three climbs come 47km, 39km, and 35km from the finish respectively and it is usually during the final passage of the Kemmelberg that the race really explodes. After the climbs, the attacking usually continues and while a small front group may be formed, some kind of regrouping is likely to take place further back. From there the race consists of a long, flat, easterly run to the finish in Wevelgem. This part of the course is often the scene of an exciting pursuit between the escapees that have emerged after the hilly zone and the sprinters who try to organize their troops in the peloton. History dictates that the sprinters often prevail but if the composition of the break is right and the weather has made the race sufficiently hard, a break certainly has a chance of making it. Usually, the race is decided in a sprint from a breakaway or a reduced peloton but as Peter Sagan in 2013, it is certainly also possible to arrive alone at the finish in Wevelgem.

 

 

 

The weather

The weather plays a huge role in every Flemish classic as it can drastically change the outcome of the race. Harsh and windy conditions make the races much harder and more selective while summerlike and calm weather increase the likelihood that things end in a bunch sprint. The courses for the Flemish classics are never so hard that a sprint from a bigger group can be completely ruled out.

 

Gent-Wevelgem is no exception from this rule and is probably the one of the classics where the difference between an "easy" or a "brutal" edition is most obvious. It is the one of the Flemish classics where the chance of a bunch sprint is biggest and it usually requires a rather tough race to avoid that scenario as it happened two years ago when the wind ripped the peloton to pieces in the early part of the race.

 

The 2015 edition of Gent-Wevelgem could turn into a wet affair. All day there will be a mix of sun, clouds and showers and for most of the day there is more than 50% risk of rain. Furthermore, it won’t be very hot as the temperature will reach a maximum of 12 degrees towards the end of the race.

 

More importantly it will be a very windy day. A very strong wind will be blowing from a westerly direction which means that the riders will first have a brutal headwind as they travel towards the coast. Then they head into a crosswind section before they turn into a tailwind. In the hilly zone, they will have all kind of wind directions and as they head to the finish in Wevelgem, they will first have a cross-tailwind and then a tailwind for the final part.

 

The favourites

As said, Gent-Wevelgem is the biggest cobbled classic that the sprinters can realistically vie for and this is very evidently reflected in the start list. For many of the big sprinters, this - and maybe the Three Days of De Panne and the Dwars door Vlaanderen - are the only races they will do in the holy period of Belgian racing and most of them deliberately stayed out of Friday's E3 to keep their powder dry for this big opportunity.

 

History proves that Gent-Wevelgem mostly ends in a sprint from a bigger group and even though the organizers have tried to make the course tougher in recent editions, they haven't managed to avoid that scenario too often. The course changes were brought into effect for the 2010 edition when Bernhard Eisel won a very hard and rain-soaked race but that race was followed by two sprint wins for Tom Boonen. In 2013 a very strong breakaway managed to deny the sprinters and last year it was again a bunch sprint.

 

History proves that a bunch sprint is the most likely outcome and it is very rare for a rider to take a solo win in Wevelgem. That doesn’t mean that it is a race for your pure sprinter though as it is never a complete peloton that arrives at the finish in Wevelgem. When Boonen won the race in 2012, the likes of Mark Cavendish and André Greipel had been left behind in the hilly zone and they never made it back to the small group that ultimately decided the race. To be in contention in Wevelgen, you need to be a very strong rider even if the race is decided in a bunch kick.

 

For the 2014 and 2015 editions, the course has been made easier and this will make it likelier that a bunch kick will decide the race. On the other hand, the weather forecast for Sunday looks very grim and this suggests that we could be in for a very hard and selective edition of Gent-Wevelgem. This will make it a lot harder for the sprinters to survive the hilly zone but it also opens the door for a strong, late break. In 2013, a group that attacked in the hectic phase just after the hills managed to stay away and last year a similar break was only caught 1km from the finish after Omega Pharma-Quick Step had committed almost the entire team to bring it back.

 

With a strong headwind in the first part, the race is likely to get off to a slow start but that will soon change. As the riders approach the first change of direction, we can expect a fierce battle for position as they will be riding into a long crosswind section near the coast that can potentially wreak havoc on the peloton. With such a strong wind, we will be pretty surprised if the peloton doesn’t split and even if it may come back together later in the race, that section will make the race a lot harder.

 

In the final part, the riders will mainly have a strong tailwind. This means that it will be easier to maintain any gaps that have been created in the crosswinds. Furthermore, it will be easier for a strong break that escapes on the climbs or just after the hilly zone to stay away. In general, the best time to attack is often just after the Monteberg where the peloton has been split and the domestiques are far back. It always takes some time for the sprint teams to get organized and the right move may take off in this part of the race.

 

Nonetheless, the most likely outcome of the race is some kind of sprint finish. Most of the teams are bringing dedicated sprint teams to this race and they go into the race with the plan so set up there fast men. It remains to be seen which riders will make the selection but you rarely win Gent-Wevelgem if you don’t have a fast finish. Due to the wind conditions, however, it may be a pretty small group that sprints for the win.

 

That scenario suits Alexander Kristoff perfectly. The Norwegian is clearly the best rider in the world when it comes to sprinting at the end of a long, hard race. While he has usually had a hard time in the pure bunch sprints, he has turned out to be virtually unbeatable at the end of long, hard races. It all started when he won the sprint for third at the 2012 Olympics and then he went on to win the bunch sprints for the minor positions in the first three monuments of the 2013 season. In 2014, he took a memorable win at Milan-Sanremo and he won the bunch sprint behind the attackers at the World Championships.

 

This year Kristoff has clearly stepped up his sprinting level a further notch and he is now even able to win the pure bunch sprints too. However, he has maintained his strength at the end of the really hard races as he proved in Milan-Sanremo where he got better and better as the day went on and was close to defending the title despite doing an unbelievably long sprint. He is excellent at positioning himself and he rarely misses out when it comes to a sprint.

 

Kristoff will benefit from the tough conditions which will make his faster rivals more fatigued at the end. However, the race can also become too hard for the Norwegian. He is not as strong on the climbs as John Degenkolb and if the race turns out to be really hard, he may actually be left behind before the finish. On the other hand, he can count on the in-form Luca Paolini, Marco Haller and Alexey Tsatevich to bring him back into contention and in last year’s Tour of Flanders he proved that he can stay with the best on the climbs. If it comes down to a sprint finish with Kristoff, he will be the man to beat and he is our favourite to win the race.

 

John Degenkolb goes into this race as the defending champion and his confidence is big after he took a memorable win in Milan-Sanremo. In that race, he underlined the fact that he is probably only surpassed by Kristoff when it comes to sprinting at the end of a long, hard race. If Kristoff hadn’t hit out too early, the win would probably have been for the Norwegian but Degenkolb proved that the Katusha leader doesn’t have to make many mistakes to get beaten by his key rival.

 

Degenkolb will relish the tough conditions which will turn this race into one of attrition. Among the fast riders, he is clearly the best classics rider alongside Sagan and there is no chance that he will get dropped in the hilly zone. Even if a very small group exits the hills, the German will definitely be there and this provides him with many opportunities.

 

However, he has one big weakness. Giant-Alpecin is not very strong for these races and after they decided not to renew Dries Devenyns’ contract, Degenkolb may find himself isolated at the end of the classics. That’s a big problem in a race that could turn out to be very selective and where it will be important to have domestiques to control what could be a very aggressive finale. If it comes down to a sprint, however, Degenkolb only has to overcome his positioning difficulties to be in with a big shot.

 

Mark Cavendish has made Gent-Wevelgem one of his big goals but until now the race has always eluded him. This year he hopes to finally add the race to his palmares and he goes into the race as the clear Etixx-QuickStep leader.

 

Cavendish would definitely have preferred better weather which would have increased the likelihood of a big bunch sprint. On paper, he is the fastest rider in the race and at the end of an easy race, he is very hard to beat.

 

However, Cavendish has proved that he is actually strong in this terrain. In Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, he made it into a very small group over the Kwaremont which proves that his skills in the classics shouldn’t be underestimated. However, he has been set back by illness and suddenly his perfect build-up to Milan-Sanremo had been ruined. In that race, he was not at his best and even though he wasn’t far off the mark, he may again come up short in what could be a very selective edition of this race. On the other hand, he can count on the strongest team for this kind of race and if Etixx-QuickStep devote the entire team to bring the Brit back into contention, they will be hard to hold back. In the end, however, he still has to beat the likes of Kristoff and Degenkolb and last year’s Milan-Sanremo proved that this is not an easy task at the end of a hard race.

 

Last year André Greipel was in prime position to finally win a big cobbled classic but disaster struck when he crashed out of the race with a broken collarbone. This year he hopes to make amends and he will be aiming big in this race. The German has had a slower start to the season as he wants to be fresher for these races. Initially, it seemed to have paid off as he was climbing really well in Algarve and looked strong when he won a stage in Paris-Nice. In Milan-Sanremo, however, he was not at the same level as he was in 2014.

 

In the past, Greipel has been unable to stay with the best on the hellingen but he seems to have become stronger in this terrain. Last year he was very close to the front after the final passage of the Kemmelberg and he has played key roles in recent editions of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. He would definitely have hoped for an easier race but he could still be there at the end.

 

On paper, Greipel is one of the fastest riders in this field but he usually relies heavily on his lead-out train which is one of the best in the business. If this race gets very hard, the sprint will be less organized and Greipel may be more on his own. Of course he will have Jurgen Roelandts at his side but he has still lost several sprint due to poor positioning. He needs to follow Roelandts closely in the finale but if he manages to do so, he could get the perfect lead-out that could give him the win.

 

Peter Sagan won this race two years ago and he would love to add another edition to his palmares. The Slovakian will be pleased with the weather forecast as he needs a really hard race to come away with the win. At the end of an easy race, several riders are faster than the Tinkoff-Saxo leader and so he needs to use his team to make this race as tough as possible.

 

Among the fast finishers, he and Degenkolb are the best classics riders and there is no chance that he won’t make the selection. On the other hand, it will be very hard for him to beat Degenkolb and Kristoff in a sprint and his best strategy may be to ride aggressively like he did two years ago. At the end of a hard race, that will definitely be possible and again he could make it into a small breakaway that decides the race. He will have a harder time in a sprint but he still has options. While Degenkolb is not strong at positioning himself, Sagan usually knows how to handle that aspect. If the faster riders are not well-placed, Sagan could come away with the win.

 

Nacer Bouhanni is getting his first taste of the cobbles after he has left the Cofidis team and so it remains to be seen how he handles the hellingen. He is very strong in hilly terrain as he proved in last year’s Vuelta a Espana and at the Worlds and Milan-Sanremo, he proved that he can handle long distances too.

 

However, his tiny stature means that he may have a harder time on the cobbles and we don’t expect him to be able to stay with the best in the hilly zone. With a hard, selective race, it may be hard to get back and he can’t count on a strong team to lend him a hand. Furthermore, he is not sprinting as well as he did last year but he is clearly getting closer to his best level. He is excellent at positioning himself and last year he proved that he is faster at Degenkolb when he is at 100% of his capabilities. If he can continue his improvement, he could be a contender in this race.

 

Last year Arnaud Demare was agonizingly close to taking that elusive big classics victory but he just came up short against Degenkolb. This year he hopes to do better but he goes into the race with a lot of uncertainty. The start to his season has been extremely frustrating as he has been far off the pace in most of the sprints. It got even worse when he crashed out of contention in Milan-Sanremo and so we didn’t get the chance to gauge his condition.

 

It seems that Demare has his usual speed and when he has got a clear run to the line, he has done some good sprints. However, he has been terrible at positioning himself and the FDJ train which worked so strongly in 2014, is clearly not at its best.

 

However, Demare is very good in the classics which he recently proved in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and he should benefit from a hard, selective race. A more selective race will make the final bunch smaller and this will make it less hectic at the finish. This could be an advantage for Demare and he clearly has the speed to win these sprints.

 

Elia Viviani has had an excellent start to the year and this race has always been his big goal for the first part of his road season. He beat Mark Cavendish in a bunch sprint at the Dubai Tour and he has benefited immensely from the very strong Sky lead-out which has helped him overcome his poor positioning.

 

Unfortunately, Viviani crashed out of Tirreno-Adriatico and this race is his first since then. This makes his condition very uncertain. On the other hand, he proved in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne that he can handle this terrain as he made it into the very small lead group over the Kwaremont. Sky have a very strong team both for the lead-out and for the classics terrain and this means that he will have the perfect support if he makes it into the group that sprints for the win.

 

Giacomo Nizzolo doesn’t have an awful lot of experience in the classics and he had a bad start to the year as he was set back by injury. However, he bounced back strongly in Paris-Nice where he was close to a stage win and he was in excellent condition when he made it over the climbs to win the GP Nobili. He was very strong in Milan-Sanremo where he made a big job for Fabian Cancellara deep into the finale. In this race, he will get his chance to lead Trek in a cobbled classic and as he proved in last year’s Giro, he has the speed to be up there with the fastest riders. With his good condition, he should do well even in a tough race and with Cancellara to support him in the finale, he will be a contender.

 

Juan Jose Lobato had big hopes for Milan-Sanremo but he was off the pace already on Cipressa. It came as a bit of a surprise as he had been very strong in the first part of the year. Now he is in Belgium to ride on the cobbles and last year he made it into the lead group that sprinted for the win. He has an incredible speed but usually suffers a lot in the fight for position and he can’t rely on much support from Movistar in these races. Furthermore, he is not expected to be among the best in this terrain but if he is there at the end, he has a chance.

 

For Sacha Modolo, Milan-Sanremo was a big goal but he never made it to the start after he crashed in Tirreno-Adriatico. Instead, Lampre-Merida decided to support Davide Cimolai. In Gent-Wevelgem, Modolo will be back in a race with Cimolai and Niccolo Bonifazio and those three riders have to find out how to handle the sprinting duties. For this kind of flat sprint, however, Modolo is probably the fastest and on paper he should be the leader. Last year he proved that he can do well on the cobbles but his condition is of course a bit uncertain. He probably needs a more technical finale to win the race but he could sprint himself onto the podium.

 

Davide Cimolai has suddenly developed from lead-out man into lead sprinter and he took a memorable uphill sprint win in Paris-Nice. What makes him very interesting for these races is the fact that he is very strong in hilly terrain and has proved that he can handle the distance. He still needs to prove that he can handle the cobbles but there is no reason to suggest that he won’t be a contender for these races in the future. It will be hard for him to win this kind of flat sprint but he could find himself on the podium.

 

Sam Bennett could have a big future in this race. Last year he made it into the group that sprinted for the win and he had a very encouraging debut in Milan-Sanremo where he was not too far off the mark. In Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, he was among the best over the Kwaremont and it is evident that he has the skills to do well on the cobbles. He still needs to get a bit stronger to survive in what could be a very hard race but if he is there at the end, he will be one of the fastest.

 

If the race turns into a hard affair, Sep Vanmarcke, Greg Van Avermaet and Zdenek Stybar will be ready to shine. LottoNL-Jumbo and BMC don’t have favourites for a sprint finish and so the former two will be keen to ride aggressively. Last year Vanmarcke accelerated on the Kemmelberg and this year he is likely to try a similar move. After the climbs, the attacks will fly thick and fast and those three riders are all among the strongest and so very likely to make it into a decisive move at the end. If Cavendish is in a group behind, Stybar may be asked to follow wheels and this will give him a tactical advantage in the finale. They are all very fast in a sprint and if they arrive at the finish in a small break, they will all be hard to beat.

 

UPDATE: Giacomo Nizzolo crashed in Dwars door Vlaanderen. He suffered no fractures but it is still unknown whether he will be at the start.

 

***** Alexander Kristoff

**** John Degenkolb, Mark Cavendish

*** André Greipel, Peter Sagan, Nacer Bouhanni, Arnaud Demare, Elia Viviani

** Giacomo Nizzolo, Juan Jose Lobato, Sacha Modolo, Davide Cimolai, Sam Bennett, Sep Vanmarcke, Greg Van Avermaet, Zdenek Stybar, Daniel Oss, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tyler Farrar

* Heinrich Haussler, Jonas Vangenechten, Niccolo Bonifazio, Matthew Goss, Moreno Hofland, Borut Bozic, Roy Jans, Edward Theyns, Raymond Kreder, Gerald Ciolek, Danny Van Poppel, Fabian Cancellara, Borut Bozic, Silvan Dillier, Jempy Drucker, Lars Boom, Niki Terpstra, Matthieu Ladagnous, Sylvain Chavanel, Kris Boeckmans, Jurgen Roelandts, Tiesj Benoot, Jens Keukeleire, Dylan van Baarle, Tom van Asbroeck, Maarten Wynants, Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Theo Bos, Mauro Finetto, Alessandro Petacchi, Marco Marcato

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List of CyclingQuotes previews 15.05.2017 @ 07:54End of the road for CyclingQuotes 08.01.2017 @ 16:00Rui Costa confirms Giro participation 07.01.2017 @ 12:55Van Avermaet: I am not afraid of Sagan 07.01.2017 @ 09:45Unchanged course for E3 Harelbeke 07.01.2017 @ 09:32Jenner takes surprise win at Australian U23 Championships 07.01.2017 @ 08:53No replacement for Meersman at Fortuneo-Vital Concept 06.01.2017 @ 19:14Barguil with two goals in 2017 06.01.2017 @ 19:06More details about French Vuelta start emerges 06.01.2017 @ 14:16Kristoff to start season at Etoile de Besseges 06.01.2017 @ 14:10Ion Izagirre announces schedule for first year at Bahrain 06.01.2017 @ 12:40JLT Condor optimistic for Herald Sun Tour 06.01.2017 @ 09:19Haas leads Dimension Data trio in fight for Australian... 06.01.2017 @ 09:15Sagan spearheads Bora-hansgrohe at Tour Down Under 06.01.2017 @ 09:12Henao and Thomas lead Sky Down Under 06.01.2017 @ 09:09Bauer crowned New Zealand TT champion 06.01.2017 @ 08:33Van der Poel ready to defend Dutch title 05.01.2017 @ 21:00Pantano ambitious for first Tour with Trek 05.01.2017 @ 20:41Landa with new approach to the Giro 05.01.2017 @ 20:36Sunweb Development Team sign Goos and Zepuntke 05.01.2017 @ 20:27Dumoulin confirms Giro participation 05.01.2017 @ 20:19Bauer targets victories in Quick-Step debut 05.01.2017 @ 20:16Gaviria and Boonen lead Quick-Step in San Juan 05.01.2017 @ 20:13Team Sunweb presented in Germany 05.01.2017 @ 20:09ASO take over major German WorldTour race 05.01.2017 @ 11:01Team Sunweb unveil new jersey 05.01.2017 @ 10:54Reactions from the Australian TT Championships 05.01.2017 @ 08:27Dennis defends Australian TT title 05.01.2017 @ 08:21Scotson takes back to back U23 TT titles in Australia 05.01.2017 @ 08:15Utrecht on track to host 2020 Vuelta 04.01.2017 @ 18:28Pre-season setback for Talansky 04.01.2017 @ 17:56Kristoff: It's not impossible for me to win in Rou... 04.01.2017 @ 17:49Boom close to first cyclo-cross win in LottoNL debut 04.01.2017 @ 17:40UAE Abu Dhabi make late signing of Arab rider 04.01.2017 @ 17:36UAE Abu Dhabi unveil new jersey 04.01.2017 @ 17:30BMC unveil race schedule 04.01.2017 @ 17:21Androni sign Costa Rican super talent 04.01.2017 @ 17:13Lampre leave the peloton 04.01.2017 @ 17:03Nibali to skip the classics 04.01.2017 @ 16:58Kolobnev announces retirement 04.01.2017 @ 15:08Young Dimension Data team targets third consecutive win... 04.01.2017 @ 14:01Vakoc leads Quick-Step at Tour Down Under 04.01.2017 @ 13:58Puncheur course for 2017 Arctic Race of Norway 04.01.2017 @ 13:55Ewan makes it itwo in row at Criterium Championships 04.01.2017 @ 13:53Track world champion wins Australian U23 criterium title 04.01.2017 @ 13:50Orica-Scott target numerous Australian titles 04.01.2017 @ 13:472017 team analysis: Movistar Team 03.01.2017 @ 17:30Wilier-Selle Italia confirm signing of Italian talent 03.01.2017 @ 17:21Novo Nordisk under pressure to secure new sponsorship 03.01.2017 @ 17:15Report: Dumoulin to focus on the Giro 03.01.2017 @ 17:06U23 World Champion forced to turn down Quick-Step 03.01.2017 @ 17:03Ag2r veteran announces retirement 03.01.2017 @ 16:59Thurau finds new team in Kuwait 03.01.2017 @ 16:5520 teams for Challenge Mallorca 03.01.2017 @ 16:47Tony Martin unveils new rainbow jersey 03.01.2017 @ 16:39

Darcy ELLERM-NORTON
25 years | today
Gérémie NZEKE
27 years | today
Agustin FONT ORONOZ
40 years | today
Radames VINENT
38 years | today
Joachim MONNARD
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