Omloop Het Nieuwsblad opens the classics season for both the men and women of Cervélo TestTeam this Saturday February 27 in Belgium. It’s the opening event on the Belgian cycling calendar and is usually held on the last Saturday in February or the first in March. It is characterized by cold weather and short cobbled climbs and comes as quite a contrast to the southern European training camps, not to mention the desert conditions of Qatar and Oman. The Omloop, with the start and finish in Ghent, uses many of the climbs in the Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen).
Thor Hushovd (NOR) won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2009 and the men’s team is ready to defend the title this weekend. In fact the team had two other riders in last year’s top ten. Andreas Klier (GER) placed seventh and Henrich Haussler (GER), eighth, so the team is focused on a strong result.
The following day, Sunday, February 28th there are two more races for the men’s team. Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is an annual one-day road race in Belgium, traditionally ridden the day after Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. This will be the 65th edition of the race, which since 2005 has been a 1.1 event on the UCI Europe Tour. There are a few changes to the team that raced the day before (Dominique Rollin (CAN) and Brett Lancaster (AUS) replace Daniel Lloyd (GBR) and Martin Reimer (GER)) but the 4-H core of Haussler, Hushovd, Roger Hammond (GBR) and Jeremy Hunt (GBR) along with Andreas Klier and Gabriel Rasch (NOR) remains intact.
“The season is finally here. For us, this team is really built for these kind of classic races,” said Jean-Paul van Poppel, Sports Director. “We know we can perform well, we did it last year and were one of the favourite teams. Now they know us and they know we have the right riders, the right people around us so not much has changed there. This year we have some younger riders who will get good experience and make us stronger. We have a fantastic team, just let it begin.”