In His Own Words: Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage Previews Dwars door Vlaanderen

Wed 20 Mar 2013

Dwars door Vlaanderen is the first of three one day Belgium classics on schedule this week. While Wednesday’s race is the only one of the three not to have WorldTour ranking, it serves as an important start to the cobbled action that begins in Roeselare and crescendos to a finish with Paris-Roubaix early next month.

Jens Keukeleire rounded out the top ten in Waregem last year. He’s back, surrounded by an interesting mix of experienced and less experienced riders, who may be able to help him go better this year. Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage will guide the team in Belgium and previews Dwars door Vlaanderen for you here.

I’ll start by reviewing the roster for you as we have a slightly different approach to the race this year. Here’s who will bring and what role I expect them to play:

Jens Keukeleire: Jens raced Milan-Sanremo, so we’re hoping he’s fully recovered from that effort. He’s a local. He knows the roads well and did a good race here last year. Another good result from him is possible

Fumy Beppu: Fumy is important for the team because he’s already done this type of race several times. He showed in Paris-Nice that he’s good condition. We’ll look for him to play a support role.

Leigh Howard: If Leigh can survive the hills and cobbles, he’s a rider that will be in contention for a field sprint. We already saw early in the season that he’s good in a hard finish.

Mitch Docker: Mitch is versatile. We can use him in several different ways. He is equally good in a breakaway or as a lead out man for Leigh.

Michael Hepburn: After doing great things on the track during the early season, Heppy is now standing in front of a new start on the road. We have to give him time to adapt, but the qualities are there for him to succeed in this type of race.

Luke Durbridge: Durbo can make an importation contribution in just about any type race. He’s focused on this block of racing, so it will be interesting to see what he can do here

Aidis Kruopis: Aidis was a bit sick last week, and we won’t have a good sense of how he recovers until he’s doing a race effort. With Aidis, we’ll have to wait and see.

Tomas Vaitkus: Tomas is one of our more experienced riders. We’ll look to him to guide the younger guys.

As you can see, we have a mix of young guys, some of whom have never raced a cobbled classic before, and older, more experienced riders. It will be especially important for us to ride as a team with this line-up. Jens Keukeleire is our most obvious option for a good result, but Leigh and Durbo could also surprise.

Knowing the course is probably the most important thing with a race like this. The riders need to know the specific points where they must be on the front. That’s why it’s important for the less experienced guys to sit around the riders with more experience in the bunch. They can guide them up to the front and remind them of key moments. The team did a recon ride on Monday, and they will help them, too.

While this race might seem less prestigious because it lacks the WorldTour designation given to E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, we start this race in the same spirit that we’ll start the others. The boys all know this would be an important win. The publicity around Dwars door Vlaanderen is huge.

I’m always asked for these race preview: “What will need to happen to feel satisfied with the effort/result?” For me, this is not an easy question to answer this time. While we’re always striving for a win, other outcomes can sometimes be satisfying. It’s difficult to qualify what sort of outcome, beyond a win, would make me happy here, but I know I want to see the team on the road. I want to see them riding together and present in the race.

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Dwars door Vlaanderen:

Aidis Kruopis
Fumy Beppu
Jens Keukeleire
Leigh Howard
Luke Durbridge
Michael Hepburn
Mitch Docker
Tomas Vaitkus