Devolder downplays his favourite's status
After Tom Boonen pointed to Discovery Channel's Stijn Devolder as one of the favourites for Omloop Het Volk, Devolder was quick to try to remove some of that status. "No, please don't call me a favourite because Van Petegem and Boonen have already proven much more than me," Devolder told Het Laatste Nieuws. "I already felt really, really strong in Andalucia. But to win, I'm still lacking something."
Steels definitely out, but McEwen in
The Davitamon-Lotto team has announced that Tom Steels will miss the Belgian opening weekend due to illness. A past winner of Het Volk, Steels said that he didn't want to race unless he was 100 percent. "I want to ride the finale, not be pack filler," said the Belgian champion. "I feel too weak for the Omloop. It's better not to start and completely recover. I don't want to put my spring in doubt. My next race is Tirreno-Adriatico."
Johan Vansummeren is another one who will not start due to illness, meaning that Jan Kuyckx and Wim De Vocht will fill their places. On the other hand, Robbie McEwen will definitely start, despite feeling a little under the weather. "I'll definitely start," McEwen was quoted in Het Laatste Nieuws. "I don't want to miss the Omloop. Everywhere I go, the fans want to know whether I am ready or not."
McEwen further explained to Cyclingnews, "Het Volk is a race at the limit of my capabilities. It's a matter of just able to be in the front or just missing it depending on my form of the day. It is a very difficult course this year with a pretty spicy first half which should open up the second half to the strongest riders. The combo of Kwaremont and Kruisstraat early on will soften up a few. Also the change to smaller roads after the Paddestraat instead of the main road to Wetteren will make it better for an escape group."
With the sun shining over Belgium on Friday, hopes are high that there will be no problems with the weather in Saturday's Omloop Het Volk. "Only heavy snowfall can stop us," said organiser Wim Van Herreweghe to Het Nieuwsblad. The latest forecast is for an overnight minimum of -4 with some light snow, then freezing fog on Saturday morning, before becoming overcast later with light snow, and a maximum of 2 degrees celsius.
Both Discovery Channel and Landbouwkrediet-Colnago chose not to recon the parcours, due to the weather this week.
Cyclingnews will be covering the 60th Omloop Het Volk live, starting 14:30 local time (CET)/08:30 (USA East)/05:30 (USA West)/00:30 (Australia East).