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Weekend Round-Up – Week 9

The start of the Belgian classics season

It was all about one word last weekend actually. Cobbles. Belgian cobbles to be precise. With Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne the Belgian classics season got off to a start, which means the peloton was moving from the Middle East and Southern America racing, to the cold winter conditions of the European mainland.

An often seen sight this weekend were riders well packed in scarfs, thick gloves and shoecovers. It’s a visual we had to get used to after the sunny conditions of the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman, but most of the riders were pleased to start off the spring season anyway. This is what early season racing is all about, the spring classics!

The Wanty riders do a cobble reconnaissance before the start of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, heavily packed in winter gear.

 

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Both our Pro Continental teams and World Tour team FDJ, were present in Belgium. With the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad as the first race of the weekend, it was FDJ rider Matthieu Ladagnous who was the first of our sponsored riders finishing. With a 10th classification Matthieu finished in front of Tom Boonen and first Pro Continental BBB-rider, Dimitri Claeys of Wanty-Groupe Gobert. The Italian classics specialist Marco Marcato of Wanty finished within the top-20 with a 19th place. The whole day both of our sponsored Pro Continental teams were present in the big breakaway of the day, with Kevin van Melsen representing Wanty and Brian van Goethem of Team Roompot Orange Peloton. The early escape didn’t last till the end, where a new small  group of leaders was getting shape, with big names as Greg van Avermaet and Peter Sagan. In the final sprint it was the Belgium BMC rider who took the win, in front of Sagan and Tiesj Benoot. Dimitri Claeys who finished in a second group was happy with his result. The resident of Gent, where this race starts and finishes, was a two-time winner of this race when he was still an U-23 rider. “It was tough and heavy. The intensity of the elite race is totally different from the U-23 one. I had to get used to it, but managed to do just that on the climbs of the Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat. My final sprint was good, so no reason to complain”, according to the Wanty rider.

Team Roompot was pretty disappointed by the race of Saturday, although they had a rider in front a big part of the day, with Brian van Goethem. Sportive manager Michel Cornelisse explained they were defeated by bad luck: “A lot of flat tyres, crashes. We lose our most important rider of the day, Jesper Asselman. We lose Michel Kreder due to a flat tyre on a very bad moment, Berden de Vries due to a crash. The boys are very disappointed, but tomorrow it’s Kuurne, so the boys will have to clear their heads and ride a good Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.”

The Roompot riders are preparing themselves for a cold and hard ride in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

A big difference with the Tour of Oman and Tour of Qatar, preparing the bikes with a winter hat, gloves and scarf.

 

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

On the second day of the weekend, it was possible to get a revenge on a disappointing Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. And that was exactly what the riders of Team Roompot were doing. With Berden de Vries, who crashed on Saturday, in the early breakaway of the day, Roompot had a strong rider in front all day, together with Sjoerd van Ginniken. Berden himself was happy with his performance, especially considering his bad luck on the day before: “Yesterday was a tough day, riding the first 120km in between the cars. But this morning I thought, ok I want to get in the early breakaway of the day. And this year, every time I think about the breakaway, it succeeded. This time, it was no difference. I think I showed myself today.”

Best sprinter and first finisher for Team Roompot was Raymond Kreder. He finished just outside the top-10 on a 14th place. He had a little bad luck with a crash, but according to sportive manager Erik Breukink, that’s normal in races like this. He still managed to push out a good sprint, but was a little disappointed afterwards. “Coming back after the crash just costed too much energy. It’s a shame, because I was positioned well when we were approaching the Kwaremont and with the shape I’m in right now, you just want to ride a far better result. But that’s what racing in Belgium is about as well. Just clear up my head and move on to next weekend!”, according to the Roompot sprinter. Just in front of Raymond finished the best sprinter of FDJ, Arnaud Démare. He finished on place 11.

The most remarkable rider of Team Wanty was probably Kevin van Melsen. After a long day in the attack in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, he attacked again in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, resulting in riding in front of the race nearly all day.

https://twitter.com/kevinvanmelsen/status/703868779403550720

Looks like this special preparation helped the guys of Wanty out in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

 

It´s not all about the classics

Although you may not notice it in this period of the season, but it´s not all about racing the classics. In France for example last weekend our sponsored teams raced in the Royal Bernard Drome Classic. A hilly race over more than 200 kilometres in the southeast region of the Drome, a little north of the Provence. This region is famous for its early season racing. And our teams did a good job, with FDJ rider Arthur Vichot continuing his form of the Haut Var race, where he won a stage and the general classification. In the Drome Classic he managed to finish 3rd. Italian rider Enrico Gasparotto of Team Wanty finished just outside the top-10 on place 12 and Johnny Hoogerland of Team Roompot finished 22nd in what seemed to be a very hard final, according to the tweeted picture of Johnny.

The final kilometres of the Drome Classic are looking quite horrible. Johnny Hoogerland still managed to finish 22nd. Good result of the Dutch climber.

The Roompot bikes are ready for the riders in the Drome Classic.

On the other side of Europe two sponsored continental teams were riding the GP Izola last weekend. Jan Tratnik of the Swiss Amplatz – BMC team finished a proper top-10, together with Josip Rumac of the Synergy Baku Cycling Project.

Ein wenig Pech machte heute für unsere Jungs viel zunichte. Als die Gruppe des Tages weg fuhr behinderte ein Sturz…

Posted by Team AMPLATZ – BMC on Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Amplatz-BMC team at the start and later in the race leading the bunch at a hilly section of the GP Izola. They are wearing BBB Tithon helmets.

 

Cyprus Sunshine Cup

While the road racers are tearing up the tarmac on the European mainland, the gravel guys of CST Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team are ripping up the trails of sunny Cyprus. And sunny it is! On the Cyprus Sunshine Cup, the young British talent Grant Ferguson is showing an early form, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the first two stages of this offroad race, which was good enough to start in the sunny yellow jersey as the overall leader.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BCQz2nAAZDA/

Grant starting in the sunshine jersey in stage 3.

Two legends sitting side by side on the stairs on Cyprus, Olympic gold medallist and mountainbike guru Bart Brentjens and former World Champion cyclocross Matthieu vd Poel.