Quick-Step Floors Team to Gent-Wevelgem
A strong, balanced and determined squad looks ahead to the final Classic of March.
One of the most prized classics of the season, Gent-Wevelgem runs its 79th edition this year. The 249.2km-long race, which should take place in nice weather conditions, with sunny skies and 14 degrees Celsius, will have the riders roll out from the small town of Deinze and wait until kilometer 135.6 for the first hill of the day, Catsberg, which averages 8%.
Kokereelberg, Vert Mont, Mont Noir-Ravel Put, Mont Noir-Blanchisserie, Banneberg, Monteberg and Kemmelberg will follow over the next 80 kilometers, with Kemmelberg, its iconic cobbles and treacherous descent set to be once again the star attractions of Gent-Wevelgem, as the 3000m-long hill will be tackled twice, last time 35 kilometers away from the finish and on the steeper side, peaking at 22%.
Also making the race complicated and spicing it up will be the plug streets; a new addition to this year's edition, these will be spread over three different sectors and will come with 60 kilometers remaining, before the last two bergs of the day.
For Tom Boonen, Gent-Wevelgem – a race he won on three occasions (2004, 2011 and 2012) – will mark the start of his final two weeks in the peloton, and the 36-year-old captain of Quick-Step Floors will be motivated to put on a strong display and fine-tune his form for Ronde van Vlaanderen (April 2nd) and Paris-Roubaix (April 9th).
Also lining out at the start of the Belgian classic will be Fernando Gaviria, who gave notice of his potential on the cobbles at the 2016 Gent-Wevelgem, where he finished sixth. Now, buoyed by that solid showing but also by his excellent results in the races he's done since the beginning of the season (four victories and a top 5 in Milano-Sanremo), the young Colombian will come at the start as one of the riders to watch.
Rounding out the Quick-Step Floors line-up for Sunday's race will be Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert – who returns to action after nabbing a beautiful solo victory at Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen – Zdenek Stybar, 2015 runner-up Niki Terpstra, Matteo Trentin and Julien Vermote.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele