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DWARS DOOR VLAANDEREN

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24.03.2015 @ 23:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Milan-Sanremo started the series of spring classics and now the centre of the cycling world moves to the cobbles in Northern Europe. For the next two weeks, Belgium and Northern France will be the scene of some of the most exciting racing of the entire season as a series of one-day races make up a very unique part of the cycling calendar. On Wednesday, it all starts with the Dwars door Vlaanderen which is a small appetizer of what is to come and allows the riders to reacquaint themselves with the roads and hellingen that will determine the fate of their classics season.

 

The time of preparation for the cobbles specialists is finally over. No excuses are valid anymore. All their hard work has to pay off during the coming three weeks where a number of opportunities present themselves.

 

With Milan-Sanremo done and dusted, the classics circus moves to the north for three weeks of intense racing on the Belgian and French cobbles. The first battle in this series of highly prestigious races is the semi-classic Dwars door Vlaanderen which takes place on Wednesday

 

The race opens a very exciting part of the cycling season. Over the next three weeks, the riders will do numerous races on the same roads and climbs in Flanders that have been the scene of some of the greatest action of the cycling history. At this time of the year, those narrow roads, their cobbles, and climbs are at the centre of the cycling world but for some reason they are barely used for the remainder of the season.

 

Dwars door Vlaanderen is the first one in the series and while it is a nice race to have on the palmares, it is also the smallest and least prestigious of the Belgian classics. That status is not for a lack of history though as it was first held in 1945 and has been held every year, with 1971 being the only exception. The race was originally a two-day stage race but since 1965, it has been held on just a single day.

 

From the start, the race was mainly a Belgian affair, with Dutchmen gradually starting to make their presence felt over the years. However, it took some time for the race to attract international attention and it wasn't until 1993 when Olaf Ludwig took the win that the race got its first non-Belgian or non-Dutch winner. However, the real internationalization is a new phenomenon but nowadays it is regarded as a top-level race and an important event for most of the teams that target the cobbled classics.

 

Despite being given a 1.HC status, however, the race remains the smallest of the cobbled races. As a mid-week race coming at the start of the race series, many riders see it more as a warm-up race and a chance to get accustomed to the cobbles and familiarize themselves with the roads that will be used for the major, upcoming races. The race is a nice opener but it won't make or break the classics season for the big teams.

 

Two years ago, a reshuffle of the calendar meant that E3 Prijs Vlaanderen was granted WorldTour status and moved from its usual Saturday slot to the Friday following Dwars door Vlaanderen. With another WorldTour event, Gent-Wevelgem, taking place on Sunday, plenty of points for the world rankings are available in the coming days, and this convinced a number of the biggest names to skip the Dwars door Vlaanderen to keep their powder dry for the more important battles ahead.

 

With Milan-Sanremo also rescheduled, this tendency was reinforced in 2013, and the names of Fabian Cancellara, Sep Vanmarcke and Peter Sagan are all absent from this year's start list. On the other hand, this turns Dwars door Vlaanderen into a perfect opportunity for key domestiques to go for personal glory before they put all their services behind their captains in the biggest of races and the three most recent editions have seen some of the riders just below the top level battle it out in an exciting contest that shows who's on form for the upcoming races. Last year the race was boosted by the fact that Tom Boonen returned to the race after a one-year absence as he tried to make up for the lost racing caused by his late withdrawal from Milan-Sanremo but it was his teammate Niki Terpstra who stole the show. This year the race again seems to be an affair for the domestiques but two major stars will be at the start line in Roeselaere. Niki Terpstra usually skips Milan-Sanremo and he is a perennial contender in this race. He will be joined by teammate Michal Kwiatkowski who will briefly return to the cobbles for the first time since 2013 as he continues his preparation for the Ardennes classics.

 

The Flemish races may be divided into two categories. Scheldeprijs, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, and Ghent-Wevelgem are races that the sprinters may realistically target and which have a rather predestined format determined by their history and their names.

 

In the second category, the Tour of Flanders, Omloop Het Nieusblad, and E3 are races for the hard men and classics specialists. These are the true Flemish classisc as they are designed in the same way. The course map is a complicated affair as the riders zigzag their way through a rather small area in the Flemish Ardennes, heading back and forth and often using the same roads numerous times. All the famous hellingen known from the Tour of Flanders are located in this small area and it is easy for the organizers to make changes from year to year, varying the climbs used for the different editions of the race.

 

The Dwars door Vlaanderen falls in between those categories. The design of the route puts it into the second category as the race heads from its centre of Waregem into the Flemish Ardennes on a sinuous course before heading back to the finish. On the other hand, the course has traditionally been easier than the bigger races, meaning that the sprinters have occasionally had a chance. Even though the race has been made tougher in recent years, good weather conditions may turn the race into more of an affair for the fast finishers. In the past, the race finished with laps of a flat finishing circuit which gave room for a regrouping but a few years ago that idea was abandoned as the organizers wanted to make the race more selective. Robbie McEwan voiced his dissatisfaction but despite the complaints, the race can still come down to a sprint from a reduced bunch.

 

That was nearly the case in 2014 but the sprinters came up short against an impressive Niki Terpstra. In a display of power that signaled what was to come later in the spring, the Dutchman attacked on the Paterberg and went straight past the remnants of the early break. Alejandro Valverde – who tested himself on the cobbles for the first time – Stijn Devolder, Nicki Sørensen and Gert Steegmans took off in pursuit but despite their best efforts, they never caught the lone Dutchman. Instead, they were swallowed up by the reduced bunch but as Terpstra stayed away to win the race for the second time in his career, Tyler Farrar’s sprint win ahead of Borut Bozic was only good enough for third. Terpstra will be back to defend his title and he will again be up against Farrar and Bozic who both hope to finally take that elusive first win on the cobbles.

 

The course

As said, the route for Dwars door Vlaanderen puts it into the same category as the Tour of Flanders, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and the E3 Prijs Harelbeke that all share the same characteristics. The races all start with a long, flat section to get the legs going before hitting a series of hellingen and pave sectors in the second half of the race. This is where the selection is made before the races end with a flat section to the finish. What make the races different are their distances and start and finishing cities and this is what ultimately determines how difficult the finale is.

 

In the past, the race ended with a couple of flat laps around Waregem, making the race much more suitable to sprinters and turning it into a race more like Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. To make the race harder, however, the organizers have abandoned this idea, putting it more along the lines of the Tour of Flanders and E3 Harelbeke. Since then, it has been much harder for the sprinters to prevail and only in 2011 and 2014 was the race close to being decided in a bunch sprint when Nick Nuyens/Geraint Thomas and Niki Terpstra narrowly held off the peloton respectively.

 

Compared to last year, there have been a few minor changes but the main aspects of the course are identical. The opening flat section has been shorted slightly, meaning that the overall distance has been reduced from 201km to 200km. Instead, the riders will tackle an extra climb as the Berendries now comes as the fourth helling after 120km of racing, meaning that there will now be 12 ascents on the course. Furthermore, the Hellenstraat will replace the Vossenhol in the finale and this means that the main climbs of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg are now 5km further away from the finish than they were last year.

 

The city that defines the Dwars door Vlaanderen is Waregem which is located in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes and like in any other of those races, the riders start the race by doing some flat kilometres. The 200km race starts in Roeselaere west of Waregem and travels along flat roads to the main city where they cross the finish line after 45.5km of racing.

 

After the passage of the line, the riders do a completely flat loop on the western outskirts of the city which brings them back to the finish line for another passage after 68.9km of racing. At this point, the early break will have been established and the race will have settled into a steady rhythm.

 

Now it is time to travel into the Flemish Ardennes which are located southeast of the city. However, the riders will follow mostly flat roads for the first part as they avoid the major hellingen. The first challenge comes after 87.9km of racing when they go up the Nieuwe Kwaremont (2000m, 4.2%, max. 8%) but it will only serve as an appetizer of what is to come.

 

The riders now reach Oudenaarde which is the finishing city of the Tour of Flanders and this signals the start of the finale. From now on, the hellingen come in quick succession with very little room for recovery and this means that positioning is crucial. The roads are very narrow and so it is important to stay near the front as a crash in front of you or poor positioning going into a climb may spell the end of your race. Hence, the pace is automatically increased and crashes are almost guaranteed to occur.

 

The first climb in the finale is the cobbled Kattenberg (740m, 5.9%, max. 8.2%) which comes with 92.9km to go. It is immediately followed by the 1500m pave sector Holleweg which precedes the more famous 1700m Haaghoek 87.2km from the finish. That section leads almost directly into the Leberg (700m, 6.1%, max. 14%)  followed by the Berendries (900m, 7.2%, max. 14%) and with 75km to go, the riders go up the Valkenberg (540m, 8.1%, max. 12.8%). With the biggest stars all being absent, the racing is likely to be less controlled and we may see attacks from some of the race favourites on any of those climbs as the racing is guaranteed to be very aggressive.

 

If the selection hasn't occurred earlier, it will start for real with 62.3km to go when the real finale kicks off. The climb that signals the start of the moment of truth is the Eikenberg (1250m, 5.8%, max. 10%). It may not do the damage but the next one, the short, steep, cobbled Taaienberg (530m, 6.6%, max. 15.8%) certainly will. This is Tom Boonen's favourite climb where he usually makes a fierce acceleration but in his absence it will be left to others to do the damage.

 

The climb comes with 56.5km still to race and at the top, we are likely to see a small group of favourites go clear. Depending on the composition, there may be some kind of regrouping but there is a great chance that the number of contenders has been whittled down to just around a dozen of riders. However, the climb is followed by a long flat stretch which has sometimes allowed a rather big field to find back together in this section. On the other hand, the flat roads are perfect for attacks from a small front group as there will be few domestique resources left and we may as well see the right move go clear at this point.

 

The decisive part of the race comes with 38.7km to go when the riders tackle the famous pair of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg in the same order as they will do a few days later in the very finale of the Tour of Flanders. First up is the Oude Kwaremont (1500m, 4%, max 11.6%) which is a long, gradual cobbled ascent which suits the really powerful riders. This is where the decisive moves have been made in recent editions of De Ronde.

 

With 35.3km to go, the riders hit the Paterberg (365m, 12.9%, max. 20.3%) which is the complete opposite kind of climb. It is short, steep, and cobbled and more suited to the explosive riders. This is where the final selection is usually made in De Ronde. Those two climbs are the places to launch the final accelerations and at their top we are guaranteed to see a huge selection.

 

After the two crucial ascents, there are still a number of challenges coming up that may be used to launch the final attacks. First up is the 2000m pave sector Varentstraat which comes with 29.4km to go. The Hellenstraat (1400m, 6.5%, max. 9%) is the next option 9.9km further up the road while the Holstraat (1000m, 5.2%, max. 12%) comes 15.1km from the finish. The final challenge is the cobbled Nokereberg (500m, 5.7%, max. 6.7%) which was the finishing straight in last week's Nokere Koerse.

 

The final challenges are not overly difficult but at the end of a hard selective race, they may do some damage. After the Paterberg, a small front group is likely to have emerged, however, and this means that the attacks may as well be launched in between the climbs and the cobbles as such a group is hard to control. In 2013 Thomas Voeckler's move which seemed to be the race-winning one, was launched 6km from the line after the passage of the Nokereberg.

 

From the Nokereberg, the roads are flat all the way to the finish and this is often the scene of some attacking racing from a small front group, a tactical battle between the leading riders or a strong solo move that stays away to the finish. However, the long distance from the Paterberg to the finish means that the final 35.3km can also be used by the sprint teams to get organized and bring things back together for a bunch sprint. In that case, the final part of the race is usually a fierce pursuit between the peloton and the attackers. The final sprint in Waregem is completely flat and at the end of a hard race like this one, the usual sprint hierarchy may no longer be valid.

 

 

 

The weather

In all Flemish classics, the weather is a key component and in a race like the Dwars door Vlaanderen where a number of different scenarios are possible, it plays an even more important role. In nice conditions, it is much harder to make a difference and there is a much greater chance that a big group will sprint it out in Waregem as it almost happened in 2011 and 2014. As opposed to this, brutal weather will make it a race of attrition that allows the hard men to come to the fore and the peloton will blow to pieces in a gradual elimination race that only allows the strongest to prevail.

 

The riders have had lots of rain for the most recent races and it won’t be any different for Wednesday’s race. However, most of the rain will be falling during the night and by the time, the riders get to the start, there is only a risk of some showers on an otherwise cloudy day. It will be pretty cold as the maximum temperature will only be 6 degrees.

 

The wind usually plays a big role in these races and on Wednesday there will be a moderate breeze from a northerly direction. As the riders zigzag their way through the Flemish Ardennes, the wind will be coming from all direction and there will be several crosswind sections. In the finale, there will be a tailwind on the Kwaremont and a headwind on the Paterberg and then it will mainly be a headwind for the final part of the race. After the Nokereberg, the riders will turn into a crosswind for the final 8km. 

 

The favourites

Dwars door Vlaanderen is one of the hardest classics to predict because the outcome depends so much on the weather. After the course was made harder a few years ago, the first editions of the race were pretty selective and turned into races for the classics specialists. In recent years, however, it seems that the race has been more suited to the sprinters and even though it hasn’t finished in a bunch sprint since 2003, the 2011 and 2014 editions almost came to the final dash to the line for the fast finishers.

 

This year the weather forecast has elements that suit the sprinters and elements that suit the classics specialists. The cold and rain will make the race a lot harder and should make it a selective affair. On the other hand, there won’t be too much wind and it will probably not be strong enough to make the peloton very nervous. Furthermore, there will mainly be a headwind in the finale which will make it harder for the attackers to stay away after the Kwaremont and the Paterberg.

 

Nonetheless, we expect a pretty selective race. Cold and rainy conditions usually have a big impact on the races in Flanders and so the odds are not on a bunch sprint. Furthermore, the biggest team in this race Etixx-QuickStep have a lot of firepower and even though they have Mark Cavendish for abunhc sprint, they will go into the event with the plan to blow the race to pieces. This will make it harder for the fast finishers to bring it back together for a sprint from a reduced group.

 

This suits defending champion Niki Terpstra perfectly. While his fellow favourites for the biggest cobbled classics all have decided to skip the small mid-week classic, the Paris-Roubaix champion has always had it as an important part of his schedule. His efforts paid off in 2012 and 2014 where he took impressive solo wins and he will be keen to try to take number three in 2015.

 

One of the reasons that Terpstra does this race, is the fact that he usually skips Milan-Sanremo. Instead, the Dutchman did the Ronde van Zeeland last Saturday and here he proved that he is fully ready for his biggest goals. After his usual anonymous performance in Tirreno-Adriatico where he worked on his condition, he joined forces with teammates Iljo Keisse and Lukasz Wisniowski to crush the opposition in the Dutch race. The team decided that Keisse deserved the win, with Terpstra rolling across the line in second, but there is no doubt that the Paris-Roubaix winner was the driving force behind the successful move.

 

Last year Terpstra was in a class of his own in this race and nobody was even close to following his big acceleration on the Paterberg. This year the field seems to be slightly weaker while Terpstra seems to be even stronger than he was 12 months ago. With Etixx-QuickStep planning to ride aggressively, there is no doubt that Terpstra will put in a big attack on the Kwaremont or the Paterberg and we simply doubt that anyone will be able to follow him.

 

The main problem for Terpstra is that he will have a headwind in the finale. On his days, however, he is very hard to catch and in a hard, cold race, he should be strong enough to stay away. However, he is not very fast in a sprint and he will probably have to arrive alone at the finish to win the race. At the moment, we think that he will be able to do so and so the defending champion is our favourite to win.

 

Lars Boom will be doing his first race on the cobbles on Wednesday. With his great ride in last year’s Tour de France, the Dutchman again underlined that he is one of the very best on the pave. However, he has never been as strong in the Flemish classics as he has been in Roubaix whose flatter course suits him better.

 

However, Boom is a very decent climber who has often excelled in the cobbled stage of the Eneco Tour which finishes on the Muur van Geraardsbergen. There is no reason to believe that he cannot turn into a major contender in Flanders too and this year he will be ready to show his potential. Last year he was out of form for these races due to a crash in Paris-Nice but this year he has had a perfect build-up. He has looked strong in his recent races and did a solid job for his team in Milan-Sanremo.

 

Boom is both a very powerful rider and a fast finisher. Of course he won’t win a bunch sprint but if he arrives at the finish with a few more riders after a race of attrition, he will be one of the favourites in the sprint. On paper, he is probably one of the two best riders for the hellingen and he could be the rider who managed to stay with Terpstra.

 

World champion Michal Kwiatkowski will return to the cobbles for the first time since 2013 when he rode excellently in the Tour of Flanders. Since then he has been focused on stage races and the Ardennes classics but the versatile Pole has proved that he has the skills for the Flemish races too. Last year he was one of the strongest on the cobbles in the Tour de France and only a puncture prevented him from staying with Vincenzo Nibali in that dramatic race.

 

Kwiatkowski is lighter than the likes of Terpstra and Boom which means that he may have a hard time matching the more powerful riders on the hardest hellingen. On the other hand, he is great climber and he is obviously in great condition. He is good in the fight for position and together with Terpstra, he forms a very strong duo. With his fast sprint, he has a good chance to win the race in most of the possible scenarios.

 

Two years ago Oscar Gatto took his only big classics win when he emerged as the strongest in a hard edition of this race. Last year he never found his best condition for these races but no one can question his potential. He has now joined the Androni team and after a slow start to the year, he has now hit peak form. He rode incredibly strongly to a top 10 finish in Strade Bianche and in Milan-Sanremo he was one of the select few who could go with the attacks on the Poggio.

 

Gatto has proved that he can handle the pave and he will be one of the strongest on the hellingen. Furthermore, he is very fast in a sprint and will even be in with a shot if a bigger group arrives at the finish. This makes him an obvious contender for this race.

 

Matti Breschel will be riding most of his 2015 season in service of Peter Sagan but as the Slovakian is postponing his debut on the cobbles until Friday, the Dane will get a rare chance to lead Tinkoff-Saxo in this race. In 2010, Breschel took a memorable solo win in a hard edition of this race and that year he looked like one of the three strongest riders in the cobbled season.

 

Since then he has been unable to reach a similar level but at last year’s Worlds he gave indications that he is getting back to his best. He rode solidly to a couple of top 10 finishes in Paris-Nice and he was strong to finish in the front group in Milan-Sanremo. Breschel has the potential to go with the best on the hellingen and he has the sprint to finish it off.

 

Jean-Pierre Drucker is a great talent for the Flemish classics and last year he proved his potential in some of the hardest race. He even finished fourth in this race and now he hopes for an even better result. He has joined the BMC team where he will mainly play a domestique role but this race is his chance to go for some personal glory.

 

Drucker hasn’t looked very strong in his recent races and so his condition is a bit uncertain. However, he has mainly been working in service of others and as these races are his big goals, he can’t be far from his best. He has proved that he is not far behind the best on the hellingen and his fast sprint even makes him a contender in a bunch kick.

 

Matteo Trentin will be another Etixx-QuickStep card. The Italian is knocking on the door for a big result on the cobbles and he has all the skills to shine in these races. He rode strongly in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but had to take a small break from competition due to the effects from a crash at the Tour of Oman. He has a few races in his legs and he seems to be back in good condition. He is both a good climber and very fast in a sprint. If it comes down to a bunch sprint and Cavendish is not there, he may also be given the chance to mix it up with the sprinters.

 

If it comes down to a sprint from a bigger group, Mark Cavendish will be ready to strike. The Manxman came up short in Milan-Sanremo and now wants to use this race to get ready for Gent-Wevelgem. In the latter event, he will be the captain but in this race he is likely to be more of a back-up plan.

 

Cavendish was in good condition before he fell ill and he was suffering a lot in Milan-Sanremo where he cam up short. He admits that he is no longer in his best form but he has proved in the past that he can handle these climbs. In Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, he was riding very strongly on the Kwaremont. If it comes down a bunch sprint, he should be there and he will be able to count on a very good lead-out. As he is usually the fastest, he will be the big favourite.

 

In that scenario, his big rival will be Nacer Bouhanni. At FDJ, the Frenchman never had the chance to do these races but on paper they should suit him pretty well. He rode strongly in Milan-Sanremo to finish sixth and even crested the Poggio in 15th position. This indicates that he is in very good condition and on paper he is the fastest rider in this race. He won’t be strong enough to go with the attacks on the hellingen but if a bigger group comes together for a sprint, he will be one of the favourites.

 

Another big rival sprint rival is likely to be Giacomo Nizzolo. The Italian doesn’t have an awful lot of experience on the cobbles but there is no reason to suggest that he can’t be a contender in these races. After an injury-plagued start, he showed good condition to win the GP Nobili and he made it over the Cipressa with the best in Milan-Sanremo before sacrificing himself for Fabian Cancellara. With Gert Steegmans and the Van Poppel brothers, he can count on a formidable lead-out and in last year’s Giro, he proved that he is not far off Bouhanni when it comes to speed in a bunch sprint.

 

Jens Debusschere will be riding in support of his leaders in the cobbled classics but in this race he will be the captain. The Belgian champion proved his great condition in Tirreno-Adriatico where he took the biggest win of his career and was one of the select few sprinters to make it over the climb in stage 6. He has proved that he can do well on the cobbles and even though he won’t be able to follow the best on the climbs, he should be there if it comes down to a bunch sprint.

 

Alexander Porsev has become a lot stronger over the last months and he is knocking on the door for a big breakthrough win. He has proved that he can handle this terrain and he is very fast in a sprint. However, he doesn’t seem to be in his best condition at the moment and so this race could turn out to be too hard for him. If it comes down to a bunch sprint and he is still there, he can count on an in-form Marco Haller to lead him out and this will make him one of the favourites for that scenario.

 

Moreno Hofland rode an excellent Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne last year and he could become a solid contender for these cobbled races that are not too hard. After he struck by illness just before this year’s race in Kuurne, he built his condition in Paris-Nice and he did reasonably well in his first Milan-Sanremo. He will have to share sprinting duties with Tom Van Asbroeck who is coming back from injury and so the Dutchman is likely to be the leader if it comes down to a bunch sprint.

 

Marco Marcato had a disappointing year at Cannondale but since he joined Wanty, he seems to be having improved. He rode strongly in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and after a small break, he finished second in last Saturday’s Classique Loire Atlantique. He should be one of the best on the hellingen and with his fast sprint, he has the skills to finish it off if a small group arrives at the finish.

 

Jens Keukeleire was once regarded as a future contender for the biggest cobbled races but it seems that will never actually get there. For this smaller race, however, he is one of the favourites. He has finished in the top 10 several times and last year he was one of the strongest on the hellingen. However, he hasn’t shown the best form recently and it remains to be seen whether he is able to go with the best in the 2015 edition. He is not fast enough to win a bunch sprint but in a smaller group, he should be one of the fastest.

 

Yves Lampaert has had a great start to his career as an Etixx-QuickStep rider and he should be in contention for a spot on the roster for the biggest races. In this race, he may get a chance to take his own opportunities and he has been showing great condition in the smaller Belgian races he has done recently. Last year he was with the best on the Kwaremont in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and he has a decent sprint to finish it off.

 

Maarten Wynants is the key domestique for Sep Vanmarcke in the cobbled classics but in this race he should be one of the leaders. While Hofland will save himself for the sprint, Wynants will try to go with the best on the hellingen. He may not be as strong as the likes of Terpstra and Boom but he has proved that he is not far off the mark and he is generally underestimated in these races. His main weakness is the fact that he is no fast sprinter.

 

Bjorn Leukemans may no longer be the classics rider he once was but he can still rise to the occasion. Last year he played a prominent role in the Tour of Flanders and so still has what it takes to be with the best in these races. He may no longer be a contender in the biggest races but in this smaller event, he should be up there. His form is a bit uncertain and he hasn’t taken any major results yet but he has so much and experience and knows when the make the right move.

 

Finally, young Tiesj Benoot deserves a mention. The Belgian was incredibly strong in his time as stagiaire last year and was among the best in almost all the races he did. He played a prominent role in Paris-Tours too and this year he has continued his excellent showing. He was with the best when Etixx-QuickStep ripped the race to pieces on the cobbles in Le Samyn and he recently finished third in the Handzame Classic. It may be a bit too early for him to shine in these races as he lacks a bit of experience but he has the talent to create a surprise on the road to Waregem.

 

***** Niki Terpstra

**** Lars Boom, Michal Kwiatkowski

*** Oscar Gatto, Matti Breschel, Jean-Pierre Drucker, Matteo Trentin, Mark Cavendish, Sebastian Langeveld

** Giacomo Nizzolo, Jens Debusschere, Alexander Porsev, Moreno Hofland, Tyler Farrar, Marco Marcato, Jens Keukeleire, Yves Lampaert, Maarten Wynants, Bjorn Leukemans, Tiesj Benoot

* Mauro Finetto, Raymond Kreder, Edward Theuns, Andrea Guardini, Roy Jans, Marco Haller, Tom Van Asbroeck, Borut Bozic, Thomas Voeckler, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Laurens De Vreese Andrey Amador, Francisco Ventoso, Gert Steegmans, Stijn Devolder, Marcus Burghardt, Alexis Gougeard, Magnus Cort, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Dylan van Baarle, Alexandr Kolobnev, Vincent Jerome, Mirko Selvaggi, Alessandro Petacchi, Fabian Wegmann, Oliver Naesen, Matthew Goss

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