Build up to Flanders continues for Mitchelton-SCOTT at Dwars Door VlaanderenMon 26 Mar 2018
After achieving fourth place in the 2017 edition with Australian Luke Durbridge, Mitchelton-SCOTT return to Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday looking for another good result and a step in the right direction ahead of Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.
Forming a key part of Flemish Cycling Week, Wednesdays cobbled semi-classic boasts a similar parcours to that of the Tour of Flanders with 12climbs to deal with before the finish and covering some of the same roads.
2013 Australian national road champion Durbridge is coming into some form and will lead the team on Wednesday, with strong support coming from 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner Mathew Hayman and Slovenian triple champion Luka Mezgec.
Kiwi strong men Jack Bauer and Sam Bewley complete the line up alongside current Australian road champion Alex Edmondson and compatriot Michael Hepburn.
Jack Bauer (NZL, 32)
Sam Bewley (NZL, 30)
Luke Durbridge (AUS, 26)
Alex Edmondson (AUS, 24)
Mathew Hayman (AUS, 39)
Michael Hepburn (AUS, 26)
Luka Mezgec (SLO, 29)
Held annually since 1945 this year marks the 73rd edition of the WorldTour event that traditionally forms part of the build-up to the prestigious Tour of Flanders.
Covering 180kilometres across the West Flanders region of Belgium and the hills of the Flemish Ardennes, the first half of the race is predominatly flat and usually windy before hitting the 12climbs in East Flanders.
The climbs include the Kruisberg and Taaienberg with the final climb, the Nokereberg coming only ten kilometres from the finish with the Knokteberg-Trieu covered three times.
Durbridge was fourth in 2017, achieving the team’s best ever result in the race as part of an elite cashing trio behind winner Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step-Floors).
Try to improve on last year’s fourth place and be well positioned over the final climbs, preferably with numbers in the front group to be able to contest the finish.
Continue the solid preparation ahead of the monuments Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
“We had a good recon of the new course yesterday and the changes are quite significant, there’s no Oude Kwaremont and the route is quite a bit shorter. We have really good options with Luka if the race comes back for a sprint and he’s in a period of really good form at the moment.”
“Personally, I seem to be going through a spell of bad luck, I got caught out with mechanicals and crashes at the weekend and missed out on the moves later on in those races. I really want to be aggressive tomorrow, out there on the front and be at the pointy end of the race to the final.
“I really do think it will kick off tomorrow and I think it will be on the Knokteberg-Trieu which is the where the organisers have decided to do laps in this time and hopefully I can be up there for that.
“My physical sensations are good, but this is the classics and anything can happen so it would be good to have that bit of luck on our side tomorrow.”
Sport director Matt Wilson:
“It will be another field full of strong competition on Wednesday and we have been improving in each of our last races with Gent-Wevelgem going better than E3-Harelbeke a couple of days before and the aim will be to continue improving through Waregem and into Flanders on Sunday.”
“The guys are all just about over the sickness and niggles that has been running through the peloton over the last few weeks and we all feel that we are coming into some from and consistency ahead of the big objectives.
“For 2018 the circuits are slightly different from previous editions, but it is still going to be tough and after Luke ran fourth last year we would like to improve on that and try to create some momentum going into the Tour of Flanders.”
Dwars Door Vlaanderen, 180km, Wednesday 28th of March.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.