ORICA-SCOTT confident for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with a capable classics teamWed 22 Feb 2017
ORICA-SCOTT are raring to get their 2017 classics campaign underway this weekend at the 72nd edition of the iconic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is the first race of the opening weekend in Belgium and is the first real test for the classics team, as they return to the brutal cobbles and often challenging weather conditions.
Over the past few years, ORICA-SCOTT have been fairly consistent with their classics roster, which gives sport director Laurenzo Lapage confidence, knowing these riders are well accustomed to the course which is a crucial aspect to the one-day Belgium race.
“This team is a team that grows every year and especially in the classics,” Lapage explained. “We started a few years ago with these guys and each you can see they are growing physically, mentally and of course each year they are more confident.”
“The riders are starting to know the course really well now, a few years ago they were scared of these races but now we go into the classics looking for a top result.”
The stellar seven-man line-up will be captained by 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner Mathew Hayman, along with local Vuelta a Espana stage winner Jens Keukeleire, who is a valuable member of the ORICA-SCOTT classics squad.
“It’s good for us having a guy like Mat Hayman in the team with all of his experience," said Lapage. "Mat and Jens know these roads so well, they can do the race with their eyes closed they know it that well. That is so important in these races and everybody knows that.”
With some racing kilometres already in the legs, the Australian outfit head into Omloop Het Nieuwsblad well prepared and confidence. Young Dane, Magnus Cort has already shown his early season form claiming two victories earlier this month in Spain and will be one of the team’s key player on Saturday.
“Magnus already knows this course quite well, he has done these races already two or three times and we have done a recon this week, so for sure Magnus is a rider who can have a good result this weekend along with Jens.”
The trio will have a strong support group around them with power-houses Svein Tuft, Sam Bewley, Luke Durbridge and Chris Juul-Jensen forming the solid backbone of the squad.
“We have a strong group to support,” Lapage continued. “Durbridge is a good guy to go in the breakaways and the other riders all know the roads well so we are ready for this race.”
The 198.3kilometre one-dayer follows a similar route to previous edition with 13 categorised climbs and many well known rugged cobble sections to contend with. The final section, Lange Munte comes just 20kilometres from the finish line.
Sam Bewley (NZ, 29)
Magnus Cort (DEN, 24)
Luke Durbridge (AUS, 25)
Mathew Hayman (AUS, 38)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN, 27)
Jens Keukeleire (BEL, 28)
Svein Tuft (CAN, 39)
Photos courtesy of ©TDWsport.com