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Omloop het Nieuwsblad

A highly experienced roster around Alexander Kristoff

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will participate in the first race of the season on Belgian soil this Saturday on the occasion of the Omloop het Nieuwsblad (1.UWT, 26/01). The traditional opening race is also the first classic on the World Tour calendar, containing nine cobble sections and thirteen climbs in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes. 

The parcours connecting Ghent and Ninove in 204 kilometer is very similar to the previous editions, although the Molenberg, one of the strategical points, is absent because of road works. The serious work begins after 100 kilometer of racing in the neighborhood of Oudenaarde with the cobbles of the Katteberg and the Holleweg. With 58 kilometer to go, the peloton will cross the Holleweg in the other direction to start a difficult succession of difficulties such as the Haaghoek, Leberg, Berendries and Vossenhol. The duo Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg are again the last climbs of the day within the final 20 kilometer.

The two previous seasons, the colors of the Belgian World Team shone in the final thanks to an attack of Aimé De Gendtin 2020 and a strong collective presence around sprinter Andrea Pasqualon last year. Both riders are part of an experimented line up in support of Alexander Kristoff. His compatriot Sven Erik Bystrøm, Belgian rider Dimitri Claeys and Frenchman Adrien Petit participated at least six times in the opening classic. Loïc Vliegen, who took his first podium of the season on the gravel roads in Jaén two weeks ago, is the seventh rider in the selection directed by Aike Visbeek, Steven De Neef and Hilaire Van der Schueren.

« Last season I was in a good position to start the final kilometer of Omloop het Nieuwsblad, until my bike was damaged because of a crash and I could participate in the sprint. The headwind in the final made it possible for a larger group to sprint for the victory and I hope that these conditions will be repeated this Saturday, as this is probably the scenario in which my chances on the victory are the highest. My feeling in my previous races was good and my form is building as planned. So I’m looking forward to meet the Belgian classics again. I’ll do the recon of the final with  Sven Erik Bystrøm and the sport directors this Friday to finish the last details in my preparation. »

« I’m very happy about our preparation and I noticed during our recon that our team is ready for the Belgian opening weekend. Our strategy for this Saturday will take into account the presence of the wind and the addition of smaller roads to the parcours. I expect that the final will start early and that a group will start the Muur of Geraardsbergen with an advantage. But I’m not convinced that the final decision will be made on the Muur and the Bosberg, because chasers still have an opportunity to come back on the roads towards Ninove. These elements make me think that the parcours suits our selection which will be led by Alexander Kristoff. We will do everything to create a good scenario for him. »


General Classification


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