Trentin and Mitchelton-SCOTT looking for their first win at opening weekendWed 27 Feb 2019
After an incredibly strong start to the season, picking up eleven race wins already, Mitchelton-SCOTT men are ready to challenge for the victory in the first Belgium Classics races known as 'opening weekend'.
With two leaders, European champion Matteo Trentin, who is in good form after already picking up three race victories this season, plus the newly crowned Australian time trial champion Luke Durbridge, the team looks as strong as ever to be in a position to challenge for the win.
Edoardo Affini - (ITA 22) **HN only
Luke Durbridge - (AUS, 27)
Alexander Edmondson - (AUS, 25)
Michael Hepburn - (AUS, 27)
Chris Juul-Jensen - (DEN, 29)
Dion Smith - (NZ, 25)
Rob Stannard - (AUS, 20) **KBK only
Matteo Trentin - (ITA, 29)
The first Classics race of the weekend, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, is 200km with 13 climbs and famous cobble sections, such as the 2km Haaghoek and 2.3km Paddestraat. Like previous editions, the cold winter weather and stress of the nervous peloton navigating through road furniture and battling for position, the race is expected to be as chaotic with an quite unpredictable final.
There’s no rest for the wicked with another testing day on Sunday, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, which features another 13 climbs including the Oude Kwaremont and Kluisberg. This race is often one for the fast men, finishing with a bunch sprint on many occasions.
The team has never come away with the victory in either races of opening weekend, with the best result being 16th by former rider Magnus Cort in 2017 in Nieuwsblad and 12th place by Durbridge in Kuurne.
As the first Classic race of the season, all the big names are set to be on the start list with many former winners and the likes of Greg van Avermaert (CCC), Sep van Marcke (EF Education first) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
“I feel good and confident, I knew I had a really good winter and now having the team working the way we have been working the last few races it is really good and it gives confidence for myself and for the team going to the Classics.
"It is going to be completely different racing than what we have seen so far but we will see. Both races are pretty different races, Nieuwsblad is probably more like a classic old style race and Kuurne is more for the sprinters but it depends always with the wind and the weather conditions, that plays a big part in these kind of races.”
“It is always really exciting for me getting back on to the cobbles for the first time of the year, getting back with the team and feeling the Belgium vibe. I am really looking forward to this weekend because we have a really good, strong team, obviously Trentin is in really good shape which is exciting. Also we have a few young guys like Dion Smith, Rob Stannard and Edoardo Affini, all ready strong young guys and it is always good to get to Belgium and really try to gel as a team and be ready for the next big Classic races.
“For me personally I’ve been up at altitude with Michael Hepburn so I am in good shape, we’ve been doing some good solid days to get ready for the race so I am excited and hopefully with this team I think we can have a good result over the weekend.”
Laurenzo Lapage - Sport director
“For sure when the race stays together then it will be for Matteo for the sprint but with Durbridge we can be aggressive in the final. I think a lot of other teams will look at us now, it is not a secret we have two guys, especially Trentin, they know these are his kind of races and he has shown his great condition.
“For us it will be important that we keep the race under control until the certain moment and they will look to us when there is a situation and if we missed it then we will have to work.
“I think this year we have a really good chance to go for the race, Durbo showed two years ago he is good guy for these races, last year he had some bad luck crashing Down Under so he came in a little bit under prepared, but this year he looks good and also Matteo so we have a really good chance to win.”
Saturday, 2nd March: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, 200km
Sunday, 3rd March: Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, 201km
Photos courtesy of Kramon