Quick-Step Floors Team to Dwars door Vlaanderen
For the first time since its inception, the Belgian classic will be part of the World Tour calendar.
Three important cobblestone races are scheduled this week, with the 203km-long Dwars door Vlaanderen set to open the ball and take the pulse of the riders who have earmarked the northern classics as their primary objective of this season. A succession of cobbled hills and pavé sectors will ensure the process of attrition, with the "fun" set to start after 90 kilometers, when the peloton will hit the slopes of Nieuwe Kwaremont.
Over the next 60 kilometers, which include five climbs, the group should get trimmed down, thus leaving a reduced bunch to tackle the tough combination of Taaienberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. The punishing gradients will take the sting out of the riders' legs, and the ones who will get over this ordeal are likely to fight for victory in Waregem – the finish town which ten years ago hosted the start of a Tour de France stage – but only after they will leave behind the pavé stretch of Herlegemstraat.
The most successful team of the past decade at Dwars door Vlaanderen, with four wins spread between three riders, Quick-Step Floors will once again aim to be among the protagonists and feature in the closing stages of the race which this year has been elevated to the World Tour calendar. Two-time champion Niki Terpstra will line out at the start on Wednesday, knowing a third success in the Belgian race, after the ones of 2012 and 2014, would mean an all-time record, as he's currently joint leader together with 11 other men.
Quick-Step Floors will have several cards to play in the one-day event starting in Roeselare, the depth of the team being underlined by the presence of Tim Declercq, Dries Devenyns, Fernando Gaviria, who recently took his first ever top 5 in a Monument at Milano-Sanremo, Belgian Champion Philippe Gilbert, Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele