Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung are back at the races today as they start the 3 days of De Panne. After disappointingly losing Edvald Boasson Hagen to a broken collarbone sustained at the weekend’s Gent-Wevelgem, the African team will be looking to take it’s revenge on the Belgian roads over the coming 3 days.
The 3 Days of De Panne will take in many of the Hellingen climbs that the boys have gone over in recent weeks already. Today’s opening stage will see riders battling over 13 of the famed climbs while stage 2 has just 5. The final day of racing is made up of two half stages, a shorter morning road stage and a 14km afternoon time trial.
With both opening stages over 200km in length, this race usually draws a number of the top Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix contenders as they look to fine tune their form before the 2 monuments. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will be no different although a top result remains a priority over the coming 3 days.
Theo Bos will lead the boys this week with Youcef Reguigui and Kristian Sbaragli also raring to go. Serge Pauwels, Andy Stauff, Jay Thomson, Nic Dougall and Matt Brammeier ensure the core of the team is rock solid. The team has been buoyed by Louis Meintjes recent stage and overall win at the Coppi e Bartali and take on the 3 Days of De Panne with renewed enthusiasm.
Andy Stauff – Rider
After my crash it took a while before I could start again because it was a pretty bad one. I had to take two weeks off but I then had a great training camp in Italy before some good hard training on home roads, which always feels good and gives me confidence. My condition now is fine, I just need some race miles to get the speed back so I’m really looking forward to De Panne. It is tough racing this time of the year in Belgium, but i’m just super happy being back in race mode and want to build up further toward Roubaix from here on where I want to be a key support rider for our leaders.