Mitchelton-SCOTT switch focus to the hilly classics with De Brabantse PijlMon 15 Apr 2019
Mitchelton-SCOTT return to Belgium ahead of the Ardennes classics week as they take on the lumpy parcours of De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne.
With one last chance for a hit out before the hilly classic campaign begins, the team head into the race with a strong array of talent and several options to play over the 196.2km course.
Double Tour Down Under winner Daryl Impey will be looking to fine tune his form ahead of the upcoming races, while Dane Chris Juul-Jensen will hope for another strong showing after his top-10 result in 2017. New signings, Dion Smith, Nick Schultz and Callum Scotson will bolster a strong squad and will have a chance to show themselves ahead the following classics.
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH, 27)
Daryl Impey (RSA, 34)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 29)
Cameron Meyer (AUS, 31)
Nick Schultz (AUS, 24)
Callum Scotson (AUS, 22)
Dion Smith (NZL, 26)
The race has traditionally been seen as a curtain raiser to the Ardennes Classics that kick-off on the following Sunday with Amstel Gold, and as such boasts an impressive start list.
The course itself is shorter than the more famous classics that follow, but the peloton will still face a demanding day in the saddle that includes no less than 31 categorised climbs. The day concludes with three laps of a 23-kilometre loop packed with five climbs - Hagaard, Hertstraat, Holstheide, Ijskelderlaan, and the Schavei, that will whittle down the bunch before the finale.
The team have enjoyed a number of top 10 finishes at the race, with former rider Michael Matthews twice finishing runner-up in 2014 and 2015. South African Impey took 10th place last season, with Juul-Jensen grabbing seventh in a reduced sprint for the win the previous year.
“It’s a race I’ve enjoyed doing in the past and when you look at our line up then we have some great cards to play throughout the race. Personally, I want to be able to make a difference deep into the final and be present when the race really starts to kick off.”
“I’ve had a good stint up in Flanders the last couple of weeks and I hope that the hard racing on cobbles will help me during the next period. The Ardennes are quite different but then again, they are similar in terms of short punchy climbs and aggressive racing. So, fingers crossed that I’ll feel good.”
“It’s a great preparation race. With a similar profile to the rest of the Ardennes, so it’s a perfect way to shock the system before the big races get underway!”
Matt White (Sports Director):
“The race is a bit of a transitional race, it’s not like a full Ardennes race and it’s a little bit different to the Flemish style races we’ve on for the last month, so it’s a good mix with a little bit of pave and a hilly parcour.”
“It’s quite a predictable race with an early breakaway that tends to get brought back on the final circuits and then something goes in the final. Whether it stays or whether it turns it to a small group sprint, it all boils down to the final 10 minutes of the race.”
“The race is often used a tune-up race for Amstel Gold, but it’s a prestigious race in itself and the Belgian teams have a lot of pressure to win these races, but it’s a good chance for our young guys to get amongst it and test their legs.”
“We’ve had some success there before in the past, we’ve got on the podium a couple of times, so we’ll be giving our younger guys a chance to mix it up, while for guys like Impey it’s a chance to fine tune his form before the Ardennes start.”
Photos courtesy of Kristof Ramon.