Greg Van Avermaet and Marcus Burghardt to lead BMC Racing into Belgian classics season
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Greg Van Avermaet and Marcus Burghardt to lead BMC Racing into Belgian classics season

by Ben Atkins at 3:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
 
Both riders looking to capitalise on Oman and Qatar form

marcus burghardtThe BMC Racing Team has named its eight-man teams for the coming weekend’s Belgian classics openers Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. The team’s classics specialists have spent the last few weeks honing their speed in the Middle Eastern sun at the Tours of Oman and Qatar to prepare for the team’s second appearance at the two races.

Team leaders Greg Van Avermaet and Marcus Burghardt both distinguished themselves in the Middle East. Van Avermaet was 10th in Oman until a last day crash, while Burghardt finished 9th in Qatar and featured in two long breakaways in Oman.

"Those breakaways were good preparation and training for this weekend," said the 2007 winner of Gent-Wevelgem, who will jointly lead BMC Racing to the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, in which he finished fifth in 2009.

With Kuurne much more suited to sprinters Burghardt will sit out the race leaving Van Avermaet, who finished one place ahead of the German in the 2009 Het Nieuwsblad.

Alessandro Ballan, arguably the team’s biggest classics star, will be missing both races; the 2008 World champion, and winner of the 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen is currently racing at the Giro di Sardegna.

Ballan is not the only big name non-Belgian to be sitting out the weekend’s races, with riders like Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) and Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo) choosing to stay away.

greg van avermaet“It’s the weather,” he suggested to Het Laatste Nieuws, “ and not everyone was raised on a diet of narrow roads, Flemish hills and rough cobbles; certainly not in the driving rain and the cold wind.

"Many riders prefer a comfortable stage race at this stage of the season,” he opined. “They then start up with the real work at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico."

The hard men from northern Belgium are different though, thinks Van Avermaet.

“We Flemings were bred to race in Flanders,” he said. “Let’s face it, these races don’t have the charisma of Milano-Sanremo or the Ronde [van Vlaanderen], but more than enough I think.”

With a number of new riders on the team, the first few races of the year saw a deal of team building for BMC Racing.

"It was a bit difficult in the first stages of Qatar but in the second part of the race and all through the Tour of Oman, the guys were really riding well together and working well as a team," said team manager John Lelangue, who will guide the team in both races.

BMC Racing Team for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:
Marcus Burghardt, Karsten Kroon, John Murphy, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet, Danilo Wyss and Simon Zahner

Team for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne:
Karsten Kroon, Jeff Louder, John Murphy, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet, Danilo Wyss and Simon Zahner

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