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In His Own Words: Laurenzo Lapage Previews Belgium Classics Openers

Sat 23 Feb 2013

Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage will direct ORICA-GreenEDGE at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne this weekend. In his own words, he describes both races and reviews the line-up of riders the team is fielding at each race.

Omloop is the first time the real classics rides are racing on their favorite courses – cobbles, steep hills and narrow roads. It’s also the first chance they have to see how they stack up compared to the other classics guys.

Two years ago, Sebastian Langeveld beat Juan Antonia Flecha in a two-up sprint to win Omloop Het Nieuwslbad. His early season form suggests a repeat performance is possible. I consider him a real contender.

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne is a difficult day of racing, with the projected weather forecast likely to make the race even hard. Because the final is over more or less flat roads, there is a big chance that we’ll see 50 or 60 guys sprinting for the win.

Leigh Howard will only race Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne for the team, and he will be our leader if the race comes down to a bunch sprint. After what we’ve already seen from Leigh this season, I believe he has a real chance. We’ve built the team around him with Mitch Docker and Michael Matthews to serve as crucial support for Howard in the finish. Those two are also second in line should Howard not be up for the sprint.

We have a strong, motivated team. I’ll review the rosters for you now:

Sebastian Langeveld
– our Omloop leader is really focused. He’s shown that he’s ready for this race.

Baden Cooke – a last minute replacement for Brett Lancaster who is out with a knee injury, Baden showed in Qatar and Oman that he can be an important rider, in large part because of his experience, for both races this weekend.

Fumy Beppu – Fumy specifically asked us during meetings before the start of the season to include races like this on his schedule during the 2013 season. He’s proven that he’s ready for this weekend in Belgium with his performance in Qatar and Oman.

Svein Tuft – we always know what we’re going to get with Svein. He shows up and he does what we need him to do when we need him to do it.

Jens Keukeleire – he’s been working all winter specifically on the classic-type races. He’s focused on helping Sebastian in the closing kilometres of the race

Sam Bewley – after being sick in Qatar, Sam showed he recovered well. He was able to help his teammates when needed in Oman, and that will be in his role in Belgium this weekend, too.

Mitch Docker – we can expect Mitch to be there at the end of both races. Depending on things unfold, Mitch will support Leigh in the sprint finish in Kuurne or maybe take his own chances if it’s a sprint with a very small group

Michael Matthews – he might be the surprise for us. Michael is in great condition, and with help from Cooke, he could make it to the finish in Gent with good legs. He misses a bit of experience but that doesn’t always have to a problem.

Leigh Howard – will only race Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and will be the team leader in the sprint

As a Belgium director, these races are extra special for me. It’s always nice to work with my team on the roads I already know from the day I started riding. Having  all the people who are close to me out on the road makes it even more important. A lot of people have been waiting all winter for this. It’s going to be an exciting weekend.

 

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:

Baden Cooke
Fumy Beppu
Jens Keukeleire
Michael Matthews
Mitch Docker
Sam Bewley
Sebastian Langeveld
Svein Tuft 

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne:

Baden Cooke
Fumy Beppu
Jens Keukeleire
Leigh Howard
Michael Matthews
Mitch Docker
Sam Bewley
Svein Tuft

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