Mitchelton-SCOTT chasing the one that got away at Tour of FlandersThu 29 Mar 2018
With victories in four of cycling’s five monuments, the Tour of Flanders is the one that has elluded Mitchelton-SCOTT since its inception in 2012.
The biggest of the Belgian Classics, also know as Ronde van Vlaanderen, is high on the list of priorities for the Australian outfit, who enter the 267km race with a well-rounded team with 2018 recruit Matteo Trentin and Australian specialist Luke Durbridge as dual leaders.
The pair have been in form to date, making the right side of splits and featuring in breakaways over the past fortnight. The aim will be to pull it all together on Sunday.
Mitchelton-SCOTT at the Tour of Flanders (Sunday, 1 April):
Jack Bauer (NZL, 32)
Luke Durbridge (AUS, 26)
Alex Edmondson (AUS, 24)
Mathew Hayman (AUS, 39)
Michael Hepburn (AUS, 26)
Luka Mezgec (SLO, 29)
Matteo Trentin (ITA, 28)
The Tour of Flanders features five cobbled sections, including the 2.4km Mariaborrestraat which serves as the longest sector. Add to that 18 ‘bergs’ of which the Paterberg, to be completed twise, may be the shortest at 360m but is by no means the easiest with ramps of up to 20% gradient.
There is no one crucial moment in the 267km race – it can, and will, happen anywhere so positioning is critical and an ability to save energy essential.
The Tour of Flanders is Mitchelton-SCOTT’s missing piece of the puzzle. In its six seasons to date, the team has conquered five out of the six ‘monuments’ with Flanders still remaining.
The team’s top result at Ronde van Vlaanderen is a tenth path back in 2013. Dual leader Durbridge finished 12th last year for his best result and in-form new recruit Matteo Trentin one place behind in 13th.
“I'm feeling good actually. Resting on Wednesday allowed me to go back home, get in a couple of good training sessions in, as well as some family time to recharge the battery at 100% for Sunday.”
“I think this year’s Flanders will probably be one of the most balanced races of the last decade. There is not one leading rider to look at, as the last races was won all by different riders and with different podiums too.
“Of course the leading team will be Quickstep but all the scenarios remain open as they also don’t have a leading rider. I think there are at least eight to ten guys that can win Flanders on Sunday and I feel like I am part of that group.
“I expect it’s going to be an exciting one to watch!”
“Sunday is obivously one of the best races of the year. I always love this race because the crowds are just amazing, people everywhere and it really is the pinnacle of the races up here and the one we’ve been building towards these past weeks.”
“My form in coming good into this race. I feel that the last couple of races haven’t quite gone to plan but I can definitely see some signs that things are moving in the right direction.
“With the team we have, with the likes of Trentin coming into the team we can play our cards with two guys at the front, with support from some really great riders. The team has been doing everything they can to be right up there, we’re all gelling and I feel that everything is going to come together on Sunday.”
“The Tour of Flanders is a step up from the other Classics.
“We will have a dual leaderships with Matteo, who has been in really good form, and Luke Durbridge who has been getting better and better leading into this race. The rest of the team are there to support them. In races like this it’s a matter of survival, being kept in the right position to stay out of trouble and given the opportunity to attack for a result.
“Last year Quickstep surprised everyone on Muur with 100km to go and split the bunch and that was race. On paper, the Kwaremont is where the real Flanders begins but it’s a race where anything can happen.”
“Quickstep is the in-form team and they have multiple options, how the race plays out can be dictated by them and BMC Racing but that doesn’t change our plans and how we approach the race.”
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.