Omega Pharma-Quick Step announces team for Ronde van Vlaanderen
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Omega Pharma-Quick Step announces team for Ronde van Vlaanderen

by Ben Atkins at 11:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
Strongest possible line up for Tom Boonen’s bid for a record fourth victory

tom boonenOmega Pharma-Quick Step has announced the names of the seven riders that will be supporting Tom Boonen in his bid for a record fourth Ronde van Vlaanderen victory, the team has confirmed via its Twitter feed. The current Belgian champion took last year’s edition, in a three-up sprint over Italians Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan, to equal the record held by Achiel Buysse, Fiorenzo Magni, Eric Leman and Johan Museeuw; the popular victory also put an unofficial stamp of approval on the controversial new Oudenaarde finish, which had upset traditionalists by the use of a decreasing a circuit and its avoidance of the Muur van Geraardsbergen.

Boonen’s build up to this year’s race has been far less ideal than in 2012, with a stomach infection in December followed by an elbow operation in January. The 32-year-old has made steady progress with his form so far this season - often working hard on the front of the peloton to give himself a good workout - but a crash on Tuesday’s opening stage of the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde saw him take a knock to his knee, which puts a little question mark his condition.

tom boonenBoonen’s team is packed with strong helpers, with some able to pick up the standard should the Belgian champion falter. Former French champion Sylvain Chavanel finished second in the 2011 edition - behind Nick Nuyens - and has been on some of his best form so far this season; the winner of the Nice stage of Paris-Nice has told the media this week that he will gladly sacrifice himself for Boonen in the race, but surely would gladly race for himself if the situation presented itself.

Another rider more than capable of filling Boonen’s shoes is Netherlands champion Niki Terpstra, who is riding with similar for to Chavanel this season. The 28-year-old finished sixth in last year’s Ronde - after working for Boonen earlier in the race - having won the Dwars door Vlaanderen - aka the mini-Ronde - ten days before.

The three captains will be ably supported by powerful, experienced Belgians Gert Steegmans and Stijn Vandenbergh, while Iljo Keisse and Zdeněk Štybar have evidently satisfied the Omega Pharma-Quick Step management that they have successfully made the transition, from track and cyclocross respectively; both will make their debut in Vlaanderens Mooiste.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step team for Ronde van Vlaanderen
Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Niki Terpstra, Iljo Keisse, Michal Kwiatkowski, Gert Steegmans, Zdeněk Štybar, Stijn Vandenbergh


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