A packed week-end will see our riders take part in two important Autumn semi-classics.
By definition a sprinters' friendly race, Brussels Cycling Classic is scheduled on Saturday, when the riders will line up in Jubelpark for the start of the 96th edition. The course will be 198-km long and sprinkled with 13 classified climbs, which come in fast succession and are sure to bring the race to life, as some teams might try to take advantage of these in order to split up the peloton and distance the sprinters or at least get them tired before the flat finish in Heysel.
Victorious here in 2012, when the race was still known as Paris-Brussels, Tom Boonen will be at the start together with Marcel Kittel and Matteo Trentin, thus giving Etixx – Quick-Step several cards to play. Fresh off the Tour de l'Avenir, where he posted three top 10 placings, stagiaire Ivan Cortina returns to the team, which will be rounded out by Nikolas Maes, Davide Martinelli, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Stijn Vandenbergh, who are going to add more power horse to the squad.
One day later, Boonen, Kittel, Trentin and Vandenbergh will travel to France for the Grand Prix de Fourmies, where they'll be joined by Julian Alaphilippe (who's set to ride his first race since finishing fourth at the Olympic Games), Rodrigo Contreras, Laurens De Plus and Petr Vakoč, who has enjoyed success twice in France this season, at Classic Sud-Ardèche and La Drôme Classic. The one-day event, held over a 205-km long course in Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, should be another sprinters' affair, but a late attack could very well go all the way, as it was the case at the past edition.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele