On Wednesday Wanty-Groupe Gobert explored the renewed finale of Omloop het Nieuwsblad (1.WT, 24/02). From Kruishoutem the team rode the last 110 kilometers of the Belgian opening race, with the Muur and Bosberg as the new final chord. On Saturday sports director Hilaire Van der Schueren counts on Frederik Backaert, Yoann Offredo, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Pieter Vanspeybrouck, Wesley Kreder, Tom Devriendt and Dion Smith. Van der Schueren and Backaert (11th last year) look ahead.
"The arrival of de Muur and Bosberg means a less flat final for the Omloop. But with Kruisberg, Taaienberg and Eikenberg a lot of cobbled bergs are missing. I expect BMC and QuickStep on Saturday as the strongest teams. "
"The wind can split it up earlier, for example at the Haaghoek. After that it is important for me not to go too hard on Berendries, a berg at a stone's throw from my home. The cold weather does not worry me. I did not suffer on the recon and can also dress appropriately on Saturday. "
"Last year I was 11th here, this year I aim higher. I want to finish top 10, and who knows what is possible. Dion Smith is one of the team mates that I can count on on Saturday. He gave a strong impression. If he can get used to the cold temperatures after the summer in New Zealand, he should be able to ride a strong final together with, among others, Offredo and me."
Hilaire Van der Schueren:
"I see that the team is well prepared for the Omloop. Everything has gone smoothly since our training camp in Benidorm. The classic team finished a final preparation race in the Algarve past week. We have done everything we can to perform well in the upcoming weekend."
"The course has changed a few important points: Kokkerelleberg and the new approach to the Molenberg are special and dangerous. The wind will play a big role, especially since they predict head wind on Saturday. I expect a larger group at the foot of De Muur and maybe even a sprint of 25 riders at the finish."
"I think we have a strong squad for this Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. We have to make good agreements and a division of roles with an eye on the final. I expect Backaert and Offredo to be part of a group that battles for victory. Secretly I would like to achieve top 5 in Omloop. "
"For someone like our New Zealander Dion Smith the recon was extremely important. He could follow the lines of a rider with a lot of experience such as Offredo and keep learning that way. "