Tuesday 23 March 2021 – It’s spring which means the classics are back. After most of the Belgian classics were shifted to October last year, it’s great to see the Flemish Cycling Week starting March 24th with the Brugge- De Panne.
The race takes on three circuits of 45.1 km in Veurne and De Panne, where the winds can be decisive through De Moeren. The 203.9km race will be decided in the Veurnestraat in De Panne, often in a reduced sprint.
We then move onto E3 Saxo Bank Classic on the 26th, followed by Gent – Wevelegem on the 28th. The E3 Saxo Bank Classic, formerly E3 BinckBank Classic, was cancelled last year but returns with a new name and additional climbs. The 203.9km course in the Flemish Ardennes takes on 17 climbs with five cobblestone sections, making it excellent preparation for the Tour of Flanders.
Gent-Wevelgem brings another opportunity to the sprinters due to its relatively flat terrain. Despite this, it’s no easy race with often unpleasant weather and strong crosswinds. The week’s penultimate race is Dwars Door Vlaanderen on March 31st, covering 180km with 12 climbs. On paper, it may be an easier race due to the distance and fewer cobbles, but the race gets hard going into the last 60km.
The week ends on the most prestigious race, the Tour of Flanders. The 105th edition and second monument of the season is the longest and most challenging of the week, being 263.7km long with 18 cobbled climbs. The most famous of these climbs is the Koppenberg that sees riders sometimes dismount their bikes to take on the 22% gradient. It will then be the attacks on the final two climbs in the last 20km, ultimately deciding the winner.
Sports Director Rolf Aldag shares the team goals for the week “So the overall strategy for the week is working together as a team to succeed as one unit. Of course, the first race with De-Panne is most likely a sprint from a reduced group, so we should be ready there with Sonny after a great San Remo. Then we go to more heavy cobbles on E3, which suits Dylan and Haussler really well. Then it’s a former sprinter showdown Gent-Wevelgem; we will have to see how that race plays out. It’s not that easy any more with more and more challenging parts, so we want to play a role there with either Sonny or Heinrich or maybe Marco from a longer breakaway. We definitely want to play an active role there. Then on paper Dwars Door Vlaanderen is an easier one because it’s only 180km long, but that can make it more difficult as you don’t have the clear favourites. This opens opportunities for many riders, and it’s technically a bit more difficult. We equally have more riders that can play a role in it, so we definitely want to share responsibilities there. Finally, it’s the big showdown Tour of Flanders. It’s a race that both Heinrich and Dylan are motivated for. We’ve seen that Dylan was 11th last year, and Heinrich has finished second in the past. So we will look to play a role there.
It’s five days of hard racing and probably the most challenging of the whole year bunched together in a short period. So recovery and the right nutrition plan is going to play a vital role in bringing success.”
Team Bahrain Victorious roster for the Flemish Cycling Week*: Phil Bauhaus, Sonny Colbrelli, Chun Kai Feng, Marco Haller, Heinrich Haussler, Jonathan Milan, Marcel Sieberg, Dylan Teuns, Fred Wright
*Line-ups to be announced on social media channels the day before each race.
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