The 2nd monument of the year is upon us, with the Belgian De Ronde van Vlaanderen taking place this Sunday. Starting in Antwerp once again, riders will complete 266km before the victor is crowned in Oudenaarde.
De Ronde van Vlaanderen, the most prized event in the beautifully mad Belgian cycling culture is set for its 102nd edition. This year 18 hellingen – short, sharp and often cobbled climbs – will characterize the 266km route. The route remains relatively unchanged from last year and so particular focus will be placed on the final 30 kilometers, were the climbs of Kruisberg, Hotond, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg are expected to decide the victor.
For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and South African cycling, it will be a unique day as we start with no less than 5 South African riders. As injury has ruled out a number of our classic specialists in recent weeks, Jaco Venter and Johann van Zyl got the late call up to join their countrymen, Ryan Gibbons, Nic Dougall and Jay Thomson for this historic race. Only once previously has South Africa had more starters in a cycling monument, with 6 riders at the 2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Our South African quintent will be rallying around Julien Vermote and Edvald Boasson Hagen, to provide a result on the day for our African Team. Vermote, who has shown impressive form during the classics thus far this season, will have the honour to lead the team around his home roads and in front of many friends and family members. Already this year, Vermote came to within meters of winning Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne and he also had a solid ride to finish 15th at Gent-Wevelgem last weekend.
Boasson Hagen has gradually been building up his form after an early season gallbladder surgery. Our Norwegian showed on Wednesday though, he is close to getting back to his best with a 4th place finish at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. The Norwegian could very well be a force to be reckoned with on Sunday.
JP Heynderickx – Sport Director
On Sunday we have one of the five big monuments in cycling, Tour of Flanders. The team is really looking forward to it. Unfortunately we cant count on the full strength of our classics squad with all the injuries to our riders who crashed in the last few weeks. I know that the 7 riders at the start will fight like a team though, and fight to get a good result with our key riders, Julien and Edvald. I am pretty sure we can keep the momentum going, after some positive results in the last classics, and fight for a top 10 on Sunday.