Team BikeExchange-Jayco return to Belgium for the next block of one-day classics, with a stacked and hungry team ready to take their chances.
The action gets underway on Wednesday with Brugge – De Panne, with Dutch sprint star Dylan Groenewegen returning to the race that he won in 2019. The racing then heads to Harelbeke on Friday for ‘E3’, with Luke Durbridge keen to be in the mix again after finishing fourth in 2017.
The week concludes with Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, where the wind can play a major factor in the outcome of the 250km race. Team BikeExchange-Jayco will tackle all three races with a strong and powerful line-up that includes Luka Mezgec, Alex Edmondson and Alexander Konychev.
Neo-pros Campbell Stewart and Kelland O’Brien will get their first taste of these Belgian classics, while Sam Bewley and Lawson Craddock will come in for Friday’s race as the team reshuffles.
Brugge – De Panne features the typically windy De Moeren section, which will be tackled four times, but the day typically comes down to a sprint finish. E3 is often dubbed a ‘mini’ Tour of Flanders and features 17 hills and 11 cobbled sectors over 204km. The peloton will then face nine climbs at Gent-Wevelgem, plus three gravel sectors as the week of racing comes to a close.
Team BikeExchange-Jayco Line-Up:
Sam Bewley (NZL) *E3 Only
Lawson Craddock (USA) *E3 Only
Luke Durbridge (AUS)
Alex Edmondson (AUS)
Dylan Groenewegen (NED) *De Panne & Gent-Wevelgem
Alex Konychev (ITA)
Luka Mezgec (SLO) *De Panne & Gent-Wevelgem
Kelland O’Brien (AUS)
Campbell Stewart (NZL)
“I’m very happy to start the ‘Belgian Classics’ season with Brugge-De Panne, which I have good memories of since I won in 2019. It’s a typical Flemish race with high pace all day long, the wind is always a threat, and the finish is suitable for sprinters. I will also race Gent-Wevelgem, a race with many Muurs that can make a selection.
I think I have a good condition. It took a few days to recover after the crash at Paris-Nice and now I’m ready to go back to racing.”
“I’m looking forward to the ‘Flemish Week’, I think Flanders is a fantastic place to ride with its narrow country roads and the huge crowds around. E3 Harelbeke is like a ‘mini’ Flanders and it’s a good race for me, I have good memories about my fourth place in 2017.
We have a good team also for Gent-Wevelgem with Dylan Groenewegen and Luka Mezgec if the race comes down in a sprint. The route suits me and so I think we also have good options.”
Mathew Hayman (Sport Director):
“We go into the classics, as you must each year, looking to get a result and ready to take chances. With Dylan we have to be confident in the races that suit him, like De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem.
All the classics are always hard-fought races and at the end of the day, they are mainly dominated by the favourites of the generation, but there are always riders who fill the podium places, and we need to be ready to take any chance we can get.
The riders that come to race in Belgium do so because they love this style of racing, they know it is going to be hard and unforgiving, but that is what makes it special when you succeed.”
2022 Classic Brugge – De Panne – Race Details:
Wednesday, 23rd March, Brugge – De Panne, 207km
2022 E3 Harelbeke – Race Details:
Friday, 25th March, Harelbeke – Harelbeke, 205km
2022 Gent-Wevelgem – Race Details:
Sunday, 27th March, Ypres – Wevelgem, 248km
Photo: Getty Sport