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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, March 31, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him. - Booker T. Washington

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More Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) team updates:

Greg van Avermaet's BMC team sent me this:

30 March, 2018, Sint-Martens-Latem (BEL): Having stood on the Tour of Flanders podium on three occasions in his career, Greg Van Avermaet is determined to stand on the top step this Sunday when he lines up for the 12th time in his career.

As a born and bred Flandrien, Van Avermaet has made no secret of his desire to win the Tour of Flanders, a victory that would add a second Monument title to his palmares.

After testing his shape in the early classics, Van Avermaet is confident in his form ahead of 'De Ronde'. "I'm happy that the Tour of Flanders is finally here. I'm in the shape that I wanted to be in, but it's going to be a difficult race. The Tour of Flanders is hard to win, as I know, but we are ready to try again this year. I think the team is good and I'm where I need to be," Van Avermaet said, "Out of all of the classics, the Tour of Flanders is the one that fits me best so I hope that everything can go right on Sunday. The classics are 90% about the legs and 10% luck. You can be as good as you want but everything has to go right on the day. I hope this year is my year."

Sports Director Fabio Baldato believes Van Avermaet and the team are ready. "The Tour of Flanders is one of the most important races of the year for Greg and the team and I am confident that we have done everything possible to put Greg in a good position for Sunday. Although we have one of the biggest favourites in Greg, I don't think the pressure is on us to control the race. We have seen many strong riders and teams during the classics and it is important that we focus on doing our own race and supporting Greg as much as possible," Baldato explained.

Geg van Avermaet

Greg van Avermaet on his way to third place in the 2015 Tour of Flanders. Sirotti photo

"I think we will see a very aggressive race on Sunday but we are ready for a big battle. The team is good and all seven riders have raced together on three occasions with E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and Dwars door Vlaanderen, which is important."

Tour of Flanders (1 April, 2018)

Rider roster: Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Stefan Küng (SUI), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL)

Tiesj Benoot's Lotto-Soudal team sent me this update:

Only two more nights till the 102nd edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. This WorldTour race starts in Antwerp for the second consecutive year and finishes after nearly 265 kilometres in Oudenaarde.

Tiesj Benoot is the leader of the Lotto Soudal team. It’s the fourth time the 24-year-old rider will participate in the Ronde. As a neo-pro he immediately finished fifth. The past two editions he abandoned the race; two years ago after he had crashed. Benoot has already had a strong season so far. At Strade Bianche he claimed his first pro victory and at Tirreno-Adriatico he finished fourth overall, taking home the best young rider jersey. Also in the previous Flemish races he showed himself. Both at E3 Harelbeke and Dwars door Vlaanderen he chose for an aggressive style of racing, which resulted in the fifth and seventh place.

Tiesj Benoot winning 2018 Strade Bianche

Tiesj Benoot winning 2018 Strade Bianche. Sirotti photo.

Tiesj Benoot: “It’s normal that I am one of the favourites for Sunday after my performances of the past weeks. I am not the main favourite though. Sagan and the Quick-Step team as a whole are one step higher than riders like Van Avermaet, Vanmarcke and me.”

“It would surprise me if the race would explode on the Muur van Geraadsbergen like it did last year. Although it is a moment were all teams will need to be alert a first time. There can always occur a selection at that point in the race, but I expect the race will really explode later. I prefer a long and extensive finale because then it becomes an exhausting race that ends with a fight man against man.”

“We miss André Greipel, Jens Keukeleire and Nikolas Maes from our original line-up. Greipel and Keukeleire could have been by my side in the finale. That’s why it’s in my interest that others get isolated. Although that is not quite realistic for Quick-Step, as they have such a strong block.”

“I’ll probably need to finish solo if I want to win, because most of the favourites are faster than me. I feel really good. The situation is a bit different now I have won Strade Bianche, because that has taken away the pressure. Of course that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to set a top result in the Ronde. At E3 Harelbeke and Dwars door Vlaanderen I proved that the condition is good and that will still be the case this Sunday. The Ronde van Vlaanderen is the race of my dreams. I already want to win it since I was a child. We ride on my training course and as a neo-pro I immediately finished fifth. I am ready to go full on Sunday!”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst, Jens Debusschere, Frederik Frison, Marcel Sieberg and Jelle Wallays.

Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

And this came from EF Education First-Drapac:

To say we’re amped up for Sunday’s showdown would be an understatement. Tour of Flanders, the second of cycling five’s Monuments, is widely considered the pinnacle of one-day racing. The course, the crowds, the atmosphere, the awareness that anything can (and will) happen – it’s distinctly De Ronde. And when a team lines up with a contender for the podium, dreaming of the top step, that belief in possibilities heightens the special feelings.

We’ll treat it like any other day on the race calendar although it’s anything but. Below the seven EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale riders who will pin on a number in Antwerp on Sunday explain why.

MATTI BRESCHEL: “You feel the tension in a good way. Something big is coming up, but if anyone can finish it off, it’s Sep. That gives everyone a lot of confidence.”

MITCH DOCKER: “It’s the build-up to Flanders that makes Flanders what it is. We have a few weeks building up to Sunday, and then Sunday is every other race all rolled into one. It’s the cream of the crop. Everything around that replicates that dynamic – the crowds, the hype, even down to the way people get nervous about it, the sense of achievement of getting through it, the feeling about getting a result. It’s an epic battle, and one of I live for every year.”

SEBASTIAN LANGEVELD: “I grew up as a child in Holland watching this race, never knowing I would four times be top 10. Along with Roubaix, Flanders is my world championships. It’s the biggest one-day race of the year. As a rider, only Roubaix has the same vibe as this. For me Sunday is a big, big day.”

SACHA MODOLO: “When you are in Belgium for Flanders, it’s as if you’re breathing a different air. It’s the most beautiful race in the world. Also tactically it is different. The race can be open at any time.”

TAYLOR PHINNEY: “The crowds make Flanders the pinnacle. There are certain races on the calendar where there is an energy you receive as an athlete, which is the energy that sustains you or at least sustains me. It really inspires me and motivates me to be a part of these races.”

Talor Phinney

Taylor Phinney will be on the line for the Tour of Flanders.

TOM SCULLY: “Coming from New Zealand, I’d compare it to the Rugby World Cup final in New Zealand with All-Blacks in the final. That atmosphere there, that’s what we see on Sunday. Tour of Flanders is world’s apart from where I came from, but it’s the world I live in, and it’s a pretty special thing.”

SEP VANMARCKE: “It’s the biggest race in Flanders in the year. As a Belgian, this is, of course, very important. The history, the cobbles and the atmosphere combine to make this race special for riders and fans alike.”

Looking for more details about what you can expect from Sunday’s race? We highly recommend this Tour of Flanders preview from CyclingTips

EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 Ronde van Vlaanderen

Sport Directors: Andreas Klier (DEU), Ken Vanmarcke (BEL)

Riders:
Matti Breschel (DEN)
Mitch Docker (AUS)
Sebastan Langeveld (NLD)
Sacha Modolo (ITA)
Taylor Phinney (USA)
Tom Scully (NZL)
Sep Vanmarcke (BEL)

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