Mark Cavendish is back in action, ten days after picking up his first podium of the season.
A total of 18 hills will be on the menu Wednesday afternoon, when the peloton will line out in Deinze for the 74th edition of Nokere Koerse, which will once again conclude on the Nokereberg, the punchy 350m hill averaging 5.7%. The race, won in the past by four different members of the Wolfpack, usually comes down to a bunch sprint, but with many of the climbs packed in the final 20 kilometers, also the attackers will have their chance.
Just forty-eight hours later, Monteberg and the iconic Kemmelberg will be among the five hills awaiting the peloton at the 200km Koksijde Bredene Classic, but although not impossible, it’s hard to believe they will end up having an impact on the outcome as both are tackled more than 100 kilometers from the finish.
Runner-up at the Grote Prijs Jean-Pierre Monseré less than two weeks ago, when he took his first podium of the season in just his third outing, Mark Cavendish will pin on a number again for the two Belgian events, which he will race for the first time in his career. The Manxman will be joined by Shane Archbold, Josef Cerny, Ian Garrison, Iljo Keisse, Stijn Steels and Jannik Steimle, with Florian Sénéchal – who on Sunday completed Paris-Nice – set to replace the former Czech ITT National Champion for Friday’s appointment.
“We have some solid line-ups for this week’s Belgian races, consisting of riders who can control the race and guys who can be in contention and fight for a good result. The roads will be narrow and we should have some strong winds, which means we need to be attentive at all times, because there’s a fair chance the peloton will split long before the finish. Throw in the hills and cobblestone stretches and you get all the ingredients of a proper classic, which means we can be in for some full gas racing, with little or no moment of respite”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Rik Van Slycke.
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