One-day racing returns this weekend with the first two semi-Classics of the year – the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Pro cycling’s elite will swap the heat of the Mediterranean, the Algarve and the Middle East for the freezing cold bergs of Belgium as preparation for the Classics season begins to heat up.
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) will be among the riders looking to kickstart their preparations for the Classics in style, with an early victory at the Omloop.
Meanwhile, after the snow put paid to last year’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne there will be plenty of riders keen to make up for lost time when the race returns.
Over the next few pages, we’ll take a look at the course and contenders for each of these so-called semi-Classics, both of which boasts a rich history and can be taken as key barometers of form for the Monument races to come.