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“We will of course have to be careful of the wind and echelons. Last year, during stage 1, a group of 4 riders managed to make it clear to the finish, so it’s very difficult to control the race," Frison says

Photo: Sirotti


24.05.2014 @ 10:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The World Ports Classic is known as a race with wind and sprints and seems to end up as a battle between two of the teams that excel in these conditions. With André Greipel, Lotto Belisol have the favourite on their roster while Omega Pharma-Quick Step have won the first two editions and hope to make it three in a row.


On the eve of the third edition of the World Ports Classic, the sun was shining over Rotterdam where the race will take off tomorrow. But the riders will mainly focus on the wind during stage 1 heading to Antwerp. Wind that could indeed trouble the sprinters, starting with race favourite André Greipel.
Greipel really back
Among the favourites of the event, André Greipel shows up with high ambitions. The German sprinter, winner of 5 stages on the Tour de France is mainly seeking confidence, especially after the bad crash he suffered during Gent-Wevelgem, that kept him away from the pack during long months. Herman Frison, his directeur sportif at Lotto-Bellisol has lined up a strong team around his sprinter although he considers that this race is very unpredictable.
“We will of course have to be careful of the wind and echelons. Last year, during stage 1, a group of 4 riders managed to make it clear to the finish, so it’s very difficult to control the race. We will be riding for a bunched sprint but there isn’t only the Lotto team on this race. After his crash, André (Greipel) went to the Tour of Turkey but never competed in the sprints. He was only there to ride kilometres. So after two months, this is the first real race that he will hope to win. It’ll be good training before the Tour de France.”
OPQS has several options
For the third edition of the race, Omega Pharma Quickstep shows up as the team to beat after winning the event in 2012 and 2013. The Belgian squad’s directeur sportif, Wilfried Peeters knows he needs to have different leaders, especially in the expected windy conditions.
“It is of course an important race for us, especially after winning the last two editions with Nikolas Maes and Tom Boonen. It’s an event where the wind is very present and where echelons can occur. We therefore need to have different options and different leaders. We’ll see in the final kilometres who will go for the sprint. We have Maes of course but also Geert Steegmans and Andrew Fenn who are very fast.”
Prestigious guests
Like on the previous years, this World Ports Classic will welcome some of the great names of Dutch and Belgian cycling. Indeed two former winners of the Tour de France will be present on both stages: Jan Janssen (in 1968) and Joop Zoetemelk (in1980). They will be joined by four-time winner of Paris-Roubaix and a Tour stage winner in 1970, Belgian Roger De Vlaeminck. Zoetemelk, record-holder in terms of appearances on the Tour de France (with George Hincapie) admits he’s delighted to be back on his home race. “I come here with great pleasure. It really is a fantastic race. I expect a very difficult race with the wind, and it might not suit a sprinter.”



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