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"I head to Dwars door Vlaanderen with the ambition to score my second victory, the first one in Tinkoff colours. I feel confident about my form and I think the team we send there will do a great job in working towards our goal."

Photo: Sirotti

DWARS DOOR VLAANDEREN

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JAY MCCARTHY

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JURAJ SAGAN

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MICHAEL GOGL

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MICHAEL KOLAR

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NIKOLAI TRUSSOV

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OSCAR GATTO

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22.03.2016 @ 13:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Wednesday sees a return to the northern European classics with the 71st edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen, a one-day semi-classic that kicks off a busy week of racing in Belgium with E3 Harelbeke and Gent – Wevelgem to come.

 

Tinkoff arrives at the race with several names capable of achieving a top result at the finish, including 2013 winner, Oscar Gatto, who comes to the race after a strong start to the season that includes a stage victory at the Ruta del Sol. The Tinkoff roster in Belgium boasts a range of experience, with a rider like Gatto lining up alongside the youth of neo-pro Erik Baška, winner of last Friday’s Handzame Classic.

 

 

Sport Director Tristan Hoffman also has past experiences with the race, being a two-time winner himself.

 

“This race is something special, but not only for me as we have 2013 winner Oscar Gatto lining up and leading the team here. I hope that he’s recovered well from Milano-Sanremo on Saturday, he’s going well and has shown before that he knows how to win here so he will be our leader.”

 

Also lining up in Belgium this Wednesday are Pavel Brutt, who gets his 2016 season underway after injury, as well as Michael Gogl, Michael Kolar, Jay McCarthy, Juraj Sagan and Nikolay Trusov, all of whom helped Erik Baška secure his first victory for Tinkoff last Friday. Michael Gogl suffered a fall after the Handzame Classic, but should hopefully be well recovered by Wednesday’s race.

 

“Pavel Brutt returns to racing after breaking his hand in the off season, and we will see how his race goes,” Hoffman continues. “His recovery took some time but he has the green light to race now so it will be good to have him back on the road. Then we have the young guys who will have the chance here to discover Belgian racing further. It’s a good opportunity to learn and develop, and we’ll be looking to go for the early breaks or to see how far into the race they can go. There’s no pressure on Erik Baška after his win last week – this is a different story here, but it will be another good race for him to build on his experiences, and to test himself.

 

“If you look to the past years here, the outcome is often decided by a small group, and last year the early break stayed away. It’s a hard race, heavy on the legs, so we need to be aware of the possibilities and to race aggressively. It’s a tough parcours with climbs and cobblestones, and the potential for wet weather could make for real Flandrian conditions.”

 

Looking at his chances of a repeast victory, Oscar Gatto said: "I head to Dwars door Vlaanderen with the ambition to score my second victory, the first one in Tinkoff colours. I feel confident about my form and I think the team we send there will do a great job in working towards our goal. It might be made mostly of young riders that lack experience in such kind of races but they are strong and have the right mindset and attitude, something equally important in my opinion.

 

 

“In what regards the parcours, I think the Dwars door Vlaanderen starts in earnest after, approximately, 140km. That doesn't mean the first part will be easy, on the contrary, but when we hit the longer cobblestone sectors it's full on. In these final 60km it will be important to be in the front, and if we can do it then we will have an advantage.

 

“Although my clear goal is to win the race, we will always have to keep in mind the two races Peter Sagan has later in the week, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem. Our goal there is for Peter to win and as a result, we will all have to be at 100% of our abilities. We will have to find the fine line in order to get the result on Wednesday and give our best for Peter on Friday and Sunday."

 

The parcours is typical of the spring classics, with a number of bergs to climb, including the infamous Oude Kwaremont. Riders will also be tested across several stretches of cobblestones, and as is the norm in Belgian racing in the spring you can always expect the possibility of crosswinds causing havoc on the peloton.

 

As a result, teamwork, attention, positioning and planning will all be key factors for Wednesday’s race. For the younger riders that are yet to experience the real atmosphere and carnage of the spring classics, Dwars door Vlaanderen will prove a perfect platform to build on in readying themselves for the bigger races to come, while supporting Oscar Gatto who will be looking to be the first over the line in Waregem after 199.7km of racing.

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