Edvald Boasson Hagen will lead Team Dimension Data at the 103rd edition of the Tour of Flanders and will be supported by a strong and experienced team.
The team also includes Michael Valgren who won both the Amstel Gold Race and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2018, Julien Vermote, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Jay Thomson, Bernie Eisel and Lars Bak. The latter duo have competed in the race a combined total of 25 times in their respective careers.
The iconic race, over 270km from Antwerp to Oudenaarde, will once again draw massive crowds along the route with Niki Terpstra being the defending champion.
Bernie Eisel: “We’re talking about the hardest races of the season and the illness at Algarve and have taken some time to recover. The problem with the Classics is that there is no place to hide and that’s the beauty of the sport.”
“At the Classics, when you’re at the top you’re at the top and when you’re not there, well then you’re nowhere. This is where we’ve been struggling at the moment but there are great signs of better form and that’s really good already. Our focus is definitely on Eddy with probably Michael and Reinie to have a bit of an outsider role. Eddy will be the captain but we can’t expect miracles of them because you can’t hide here and the best riders will be up there, especially as it’s Flanders.
“It’s pretty much just a training ride until you hit the first cobbles or crunch-point of the race, you already have 150km in your legs and normally at other races you’re going into the final at that point but here you still have 110km to go and all the major climbs are waiting for you. It’s going to be about positioning, finding the right moment for us to be in the right group and not waiting. That’s the point for the helpers on the day, to get the guys to around the 180km mark without them spending energy up to that point, and get them safely through.
“From there it’s pretty much the tactics and the legs that will do the talking for the outcome. It’s time to show something too – we can’t talk about races still to come – the Vlaanderen classics are all but over with just two races after this and we better do something!
“The spirit is good, the weather is good and crazy Belgium is ready for the Ronde and there are already thousands of riders on the road ahead of the sportive – bring on Sunday!”