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"Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is an important race for the team and also for myself. I want to prove for myself that I can win such a race. I already could have won it two years ago," Greipel says

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ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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JURGEN ROELANDTS

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KUURNE-BRUXELLES-KUURNE

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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OMLOOP HET NIEUWSBLAD

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28.02.2014 @ 19:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard
Lotto Belisol carry a big portion of the expectations from the home country when they line up for the Belgian opening weekend. Jurgen Roelandts leads the team in Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad while André Greipel will be the captain for Sunday's Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and the dup shared their thoughts on the eve of the race.s
 
The Belgian opening weekend is only one day away. Tomorrow at about five past half twelve the first of the Flemish spring races will kick off on the Saint-Peter's Square in Ghent, where the Omloop het Nieuwsblad begins. A day later Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is programmed. That race had to be cancelled last year because of the snow.
 
On the course of the Omloop, 198 kilometers long, there are ten climbs. The first one, the Leberg, comes after 60km of racing. Next the peloton passes among other over the Muur van Geraardsbergen, but that's more than 100 kilometers from the finish.
 
There are also ten cobblestone sections, with three times the stones of the Haaghoek (2000 meters). The Molenberg is the last climb of the day, 37 kilometers before the finish and then there are three long cobblestone sections still to come: the Paddestraat (2300 meters), the Lippenhovestraat (1300 meters) and the Lange Munte (2500 meters). After the final cobbles it's about 20 kilometers till the finish line on the Saint-Peter's Square in Ghent.
 
Jürgen Roelandts is the leader at Lotto Belisol. The team had to change the selection for the Omloop as Kenny Dehaes replaces Gert Dockx, who is ill.
 
"My preparation has been perfect," Roelandts said. "On Wednesday we had a nice team training, good to test the legs after the Tour of Oman. If you take a ride with your teammates, you are encouraged to go deep. The weather that's predicted for tomorrow is an advantage for me. I can cope well with cold and rain. Of course I suffer as well, but less than most other riders.
 
"The Omloop is a very beautiful race to win. It's a race where the decision can be made fast. After the Taaienberg the field splits up. There are different riders that are good. In the team of Omega Pharma – QuickStep there are several riders that are in good shape, not only Tom Boonen. Zdenek Stybar for example has made a strong impression in the Tour of Oman. But next to them there's a range of other candidates."
 
Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is 197 kilometers long. This classic is an opportunity for the sprinters. There are many fast guys at the start, like Lotto Belisol captain André Greipel. The route features nine climbs, but the last one – Nokereberg – is still 53 kilometers from the finish. Among others, Tom Boonen, Bryan Coquard, Arnaud Démare, Tyler Farrar, Alexander Kristoff and Christopher Sutton will appear at the start.
 
"Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is an important race for the team and also for myself," Greipel said. "I want to prove for myself that I can win such a race. I already could have won it two years ago. It's a strange sprint in Kuurne on a pretty wide road and the wind can come from everywhere.
 
"What's typical about Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is that you have to focus from kilometer zero, the first hour is pretty fast. You have to save as much energy as possible for the final. After the Kruisberg you should start controlling the race and try to get a bunch sprint.  But the wind will play a factor. We'll see what we have to do, depending on the situation.
 
"The teams bring their fast guys to this race, but we just have to focus on our thing. With among other Marcel Sieberg and Jürgen Roelandts we have the fastest last kilometer for sure. I already have won six times this year, but it's not only about me. The teammates support me and give me confidence. I cross the finish line first but the whole team is part of it. They make it possible for me to save power."
 
Manager Marc Sergeant hopes that his team can keep its momentum going.
 
"We already have had a good start of the season with six victories of André Greipel, but those have all been a team effort," he said. It's always nice if you can win early in the season. The whole team performs on a high level.
 
"For the opening weekend it's obvious: Saturday Jürgen is our man, Sunday that's André. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the first race on Belgian soil, always gives a special feeling. The best come forward and the very best can ride away. Tomorrow we have to make the race.
 
"Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne has a nervous and classic opening phase. It's important to have as much of our riders as possible in the main group that will sprint for victory. The team then has to drop off André as perfect as possible."
 
Lotto Belisol for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Lars Bak, Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, Kenny Dehaes, Pim Ligthart, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Frederik Willems
 
Lotto Belisol for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne: Lars Bak, Kris Boeckmans, Vegard Breen, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Pim Ligthart, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg

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