ORICA-GreenEDGE set for the Belgian hustleMon 23 Mar 2015
The Dwars Door Vlaanderen launches two huge weeks of racing action in Belgium this Wednesday as cycling becomes the epicenter of the country in the lead up to the Tour of Flanders.
After three consecutive top-ten finishes in his opening home race, Belgian Jens Keukeleire and ORICA-GreenEDGE are motivated to get the fortnight of racing off to a strong start.
“The thing with racing in Belgium is that you have to like it from the beginning of your career,” sport director Laurenzo Lapage said.
“If you are not 100% motivated to fight to be in good position each corner, if you are not ready to fight against cold and wet circumstances, it will not work.
“All riders have, for sure, a love-hate relationship with these races.”
Keukeleire, who finished ninth at the 2014 Dwars Door Vlaanderen, will again be one of the riders protected for the finale but the 26-year-old is part of a flexible eight-man line up ready for anything thrown from the unpredictable nature of Belgian racing.
Wednesday’s race features eight cobble sections and twelve smaller sized climbs. A lot can happen on the 200km journey from Roedelare to Waregem but Lapage predicts a select bunch sprint.
“The race goes over more or less same roads as Tour de Flanders,” Lapage said. “The weather always plays an important role in these races but I’d suggest we will end up with a reduced bunch sprint in Waregem.”
Keukeleire is joined by 2014 RideLondon Classic winner Adam Blythe, Danish neo-pro Magnus Cort and multiple track world champion Leigh Howard, each with a handy kick in their legs.
Road captain Mathew Hayman, Classics specialist Mitch Docker, and the pulling power of Michael Hepburn and Jens Mouris add experience and engine capacity to the talented outfit for the first of the Belgian races.
“We lost a lot of experience with losing (Svein) Tuft for these races but I'm sure some youngsters are ready to stand up,” Lapage said.
“Jens Keukeleire will have a protected role in almost all races here whilst Mat Hayman will be our captain on the road.
“The role for the others will be discussed from race to race. It is not possible to make a plan for E3 for example with Waregem two days before. Too much can happen.”
ORICA-GreenEDGE at Dwars Door Vlaanderen (25 March):
Note: Teams for the E3 Harelbeke and Gent – Wevelgem will be confirmed after Dwars Door Vlaanderen.