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“The testing last week got everyone reacquainted with the route and where the difficulties lie. We have a strong and experienced line-up and the goal is to come here with as many guys as possible in the final to set up Devenyns and Re...

Photo: Team Giant-Shimano

ALBERT TIMMER

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BERT DE BACKER

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DRIES DEVENYNS

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JOHANNES FRÖHLINGER

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JONAS AHLSTRAND

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KOEN DE KORT

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KUURNE-BRUXELLES-KUURNE

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LUKA MEZGEC

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NIKIAS ARNDT

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OMLOOP HET NIEUWSBLAD

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RAMON SINKELDAM

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REINARDT JANSE VAN RENSBURG

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ROY CURVERS

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TEAM SUNWEB

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THIERRY HUPOND

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THOMAS DAMUSEAU

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THOMAS PETERSON

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TOM STAMSNIJDER

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TOM VEELERS

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WARREN BARGUIL

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25.02.2014 @ 18:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Team Giant-Shimano will be without their stars in the Belgian opening weekend. Classics captain John Degenkolb will not start his one-day campaign in the Omloop Het Nieusblad like he usually does while there will be no Marcel Kittel in Sunday's expected bunch sprint in the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

 

This coming weekend sees the start of one of the most exciting and important periods of the racing season – the Spring Classics. The racing gets underway with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (1.HC) which Team Giant-Shimano did a reconnaissance of last week when testing their new Giant Defy Advanced SL bikes and Vittoria tyres.

 
The race is punctuated by cobbles and short, sharp climbs over the 198.6km route starting and finishing in Gent. Team Giant-Shimano bolstered their classics line-up for 2014, adding Dries Devenyns who lives and trains on the Flemish roads.
 
After a strong and fruitful period of racing and preparation, including racing in the early season French races, the team are in good shape to hit the ground running.
 
“All the guys lining up in Belgium have shown that the shape is there and have been working well as a team in their last races,” said coach Marc Reef. “In the Flemish races team work will be really important.

"The recon was also used to set everyone's positions up and all the riders have been really happy with how their classics bikes feel and with the new equipment, which will give them confidence for the races.
 
“The testing last week got everyone reacquainted with the route and where the difficulties lie. We have a strong and experienced line-up and the goal is to come here with as many guys as possible in the final to set up Devenyns and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg."

 

The team's captain for the major Flemish classics John Degenkolb won't be present as he has chosen a different preparation forhis major goals than usual.

 

The second of a double header of Flemish races this weekend is Kuurne - Brussels - Kuurne. This classic has a slightly less testing parcours than the previous day's Het Nieuwsblad, however it often sees strong crosswinds split the peloton and decide the outcome of the race. Last year conditions were so bad that the race had to be cancelled.


In 2012, Tom Veelers finished sixth and he will be here once again to battle it out, together with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg who showed strong form at the Tour du Haur Var last weekend, taking seventh on the final stage.

"The team is more or less the same for Kuurne as it is to Het Nieuwsblad, but with the inclusion of Veelers who did a great race here last time the race was on," Reef said. "The weather will play a big part in the outcome of the race and we will be prepared and try to race with a cool head and as a unit.

"Nikias Arndt had a solid race in Spain last week and joins the line-up here, together with van Rensburg and Luka Mezgec we have several cards to play. Road captain, Roy Curvers will be leading the team and I'm confident we can make an impact on this race."

 

In addition to Arndt, Mezgec, and Veelers, Jonas Ahlstrand will be added to the roster to bolster the line-up. The team's main sprinter Marcel Kittel has decided not to do the race after abandoning the Vuelta a Andalusia last week.

 

In addition to the Belgian races, Team Giant-Shimano will also be active in France where they will do the Boucles du Sud-Ardeche and La Drome Classic.

 

The racing continues in France this week with the Classic Sud Ardèche on Saturday. The route suits the attacking riders down to the ground and as such a team of all-rounders will head to the race which features no less than 11 categorised climbs.


Warren Barguil placed highest for the team here last year in 19th and he returns looking to improve on this place. 

"We have a young team here in France and everyone has a free card more or less to see what we can do," coach Lionel Marie said. "It will be a good opportunity for some of the workers in the team to have a go themselves at getting a result.

"It could go either way for this race, a reduced bunch or a small group at the finish, but we will react out on the road and see what the guys can do."

 

The second of two races in France this week is La Drome Classic, in its first year after last year's first edition was cancelled because of snow.


The line-up is similar to the previous day's race, with the addition of Cheng Ji and Sea Keong Loh who is getting their seasons underway here in France.

The race will be another one to suit the all-rounders, based on four laps of a circuit that includes a selection of short sharp climbs, followed by a finishing loop with two testing climbs which will probably decide the outcome of the race.

"Much like Saturday's race we have a young team who will all have an opportunity to have a go," Marie said. "It will be a good chance to see how they work together.

"It is also Sea Keong Loh's first race for the team and it will be a nice opportunity for him to get stuck in and racing with the team. Thierry Hupond knows most of the roads in the area and this knowledge will be useful in making a plan for the race."

 

Giant-Shimano for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:

Bert De Backer (BEL)
Roy Curvers (NED)
Dries Devenyns (BEL)
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA)
Koen De Kort (NED)
Ramon Sinkeldam (NED)
Tom Stamsnijder (NED)
Albert Timmer (NED)

 

Giant-Shimano for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne:

Jonas Ahlstrand (SWE)
Nikias Arndt (GER)
Bert De Backer (BEL)
Roy Curvers (NED)
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA)
Koen De Kort (NED)
Luka Mezgec (SLO)
Tom Veelers (NED)

 

Giant-Shimano for Boucles du Sud-Ardeche:

Warren Barguil (FRA)
Lawson Craddock (USA)
Thomas Damuseau (FRA)
Johannes Fröhlinger (GER)
Chad Haga (USA)
Thierry Hupond (FRA)
Tom Peterson (USA)

 

Giant-Shimano for La Drome Classic:

Warren Barguil (FRA)
Thomas Damuseau (FRA)
Johannes Fröhlinger (GER)
Chad Haga (USA)
Thierry Hupond (FRA)
Cheng Ji (CHN)
Sea Keong Loh (MAL)
Tom Peterson (USA)

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