Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) will defend his Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne title on Sunday (February 24).
The 2011 world road race champion won last year’s race for Team Sky and will roll out this year hoping to extend an impressive start to his career with Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
The Manx Missile opened his account for the team at the first attempt by winning stage one of the Tour de San Luis, before taking overall victory at the Tour of Oman after winning four of the six stages.
He will head a heavyweight line-up in Kuurne, which may include support from the ‘King of the Classics’, Tom Boonen, who is working his way back to full fitness after a start to the season derailed by an injured elbow.
The Belgian will defend his title at the Omloop Het Neiwsblad on Saturday (February 23), and use his performance to decide whether he will ride in Kuurne the following day.
“I think right now I just need to try to do as many races as possible,” Boonen said.
“I have as many question marks as everybody else about my shape. I really don’t know, I have no idea how I will react after 200 kilometers, hill after hill, cobblestone after cobblestone. Today at training I tried to go a little bit faster and it was still hard, but we’ll see.”
Victory in last year’s Omloop teed up an incredible spring for Tornado Tom, in which he went on to win E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Boonen’s presence alongside Cavendish in Kuurne would cement a heavyweight line-up for OPQS, which will include Sylvain Chavenel, Gert Steegemans, Niki Terpstra, and Zdenek Stybar.
Directeur sportif, Wilfried Peeters, said there was no question that Cavendish would lead the team in Kuurne.
“For sure we will start with the aim to bring Cavendish to the final sprint. He won last year and he is in good shape. In case of a nervous race we will have other riders able to enter in the main actions.”