BMC with four captains to Flanders
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Sunday, April 4, 2010

BMC with four captains to Flanders

by Bjorn Haake at 4:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders

Alessandro Ballan (winner in 2007), George Hincapie, Marcus Burghardt and Karsten Kroon will lead the BMC team in today's Ronde van Vlaanderen. Not a bad line-up to have for the Belgian classic. Or are there too many leaders?

No, says Burghardt. "Having many captains is an advantage, as so many things can happen. Crashes or mechanicals on the narrow roads can put you out of contention." The German adds that he is ready for the race. "My form built up nicely through Tirreno and then Sanremo. You can't simulate 300km at race pace in training."

He ranks the Ronde right behind Paris-Roubaix. "When you see the many fans on the market square [at the start in Brugge] you become a little bit nervous, but this feeling goes away quickly as you have to do so many things - putting on the race number, eating and so on."

He admits that the course is even tougher this year and gives good advice. "Don't forget to eat despite the cobbles, the hills and the narrow roads."

Hincapie favors the new routing, with the Molenberg late in the game. "I like the changes because if you have good legs it is going to be easier to stay in the front."

Hincapie was not feeling too well earlier in the season. "Finally my legs feel normal again. I started feeling better in Sanremo, even more so in Gent-Wevelgem," where he finished fourth. "I am happy my form is coming back."

It will be important to have good form on Sunday. "It's such a hard race, it is almost like a war out there, especially if the weather is bad."

Former winner right on target

Former Ronde winner Ballan is also improving. "I had some stomach problems ahead of Tirreno and I didn't race as well as I thought I could in Milano-Sanremo; but I had a good first stage in De Panne, so I hope to do a great race Sunday."

The experienced Italian sees two key points. "The beginning of the Oude Kwaremont and also at the Taaienberg," he says, indicating he is ready. "I am doing well in long and tough races and I won here in 2007."

He cherishes his Belgian win. "I still have good memories from 2007, as it was my first big victory. I still remember the suspense when I arrived for the sprint with Hoste."

Kroon, who has also had a top ten already, blamed the winter for tough racing. "From the 12 races I did, I think there were 11 in the rain. I don't mind the wet, but if it is cold also, that is tough." Weather could be a factor on Sunday as well, but Kroon also counts on the experience. "We have four strong guys and it is not always the best who wins. This race is very hectic and hard to predict."


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