Preview: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

One-day racing returns to Belgium as Classics preparations get serious


The following day sees the return of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne – weather-permitting – after last year’s snow-struck affair – one that was cancelled as the riders remained cocooned in their team buses.

Featuring nine climbs, eight of which are in the latter half of the race, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) is the defending champion though the Belgian team have yet to confirm whether he will take the startline.

Fabian Cancellara detonates last year’s Tour of Flanders on the Oude Kwaremont, which features on this year’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne pic: ©Sirotti

Among the climbs are Oude Kwaremont – with a maximum incline of 11.6 per cent on the 2.2km ascent – while Cote du Trieu follows immediately afterwards with gradients touching 13 per cent in parts.

The moderate climbs of the Tiegemberg, Holstraat and Nokereberg are later in the course, before the fast, pacey descent to the finish.

Through Cavendish and Australian sprinter Chris Sutton before him, Sky have enjoyed some rare one-day success on the course in the last two editions to have been run, with the latter also a possible contender again this time.

Should either of them be successful on Sunday – and neither team has yet to declare a squad for Kuurne, with both names absent from official website’s provisional list – it would place them level with 12 other riders – including Boonen – to have won the race a record-equalling twice.

Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) will also be looking to continue his fine start to the season – having proved that all bar the biggest climbs have been no match for him so far. And Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), desperate to make amends for his narrow defeat to Fabian Cancellara in Roubaix last year, could also start.

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