Alaphilippe on hand for Etixx-QuickStep
The Frenchman was laid low by mononucleosis at the end of last season and has had a slow start to the 2016 campaign, abandoning each of the three stage races – La Provence, the Three Days of West Flanders and Volta a Catalunya – that he started.
With Alaphilippe still searching for form, Czech champion Petr Vakoc is the likely leader for Etixx-QuickStep on Wednesday. The 23-year-old Vakoc has won the Classic Sud-Ardèche and La Drôme Classic already this season.
Gianni Meersman, Rodrigo Contreras and Davide Martinelli are also included in the team, though two of Etixx-QuickStep’s leading lights for next week’s troika, Dan Martin and Bob Jungels, will not be on hand.
Etixx-QuickStep for Brabantse Pijl: Julian Alaphilippe, Rodrigo Contreras Pinzon, Davide Martinelli, Gianni Meersman, Pieter Serry, Petr Vakoc, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Julien Vermote.
Hermans returns to Brabantse Pijl but no Gilbert for BMC
In the absence of the injured Philippe Gilbert, who was left with a fractured finger following a reported altercation with a motorist during a training ride last week, defending champion Ben Hermans will lead BMC at Brabantse Pijl.
Hermans attacked late in the company of David Tanner (IAM Cycling) at the end of last year’s Brabantse Pijl, and then powered away alone, staying clear to beat Michael Matthews (Orcia-GreenEdge) by two seconds.
“I’m looking forward to returning to Brabantse Pijl with the number 1 on my back. It’s always a nice race with a spectacular final. I hope to have good legs on Wednesday and also going into the rest of the Ardennes,” Hermans said.
The Belgian is joined in the BMC line-up by Dylan Teuns, Alessandro De Marchi and Loïc Vliegen, who was training with Gilbert last Friday when the altercation with the motorist took place.
BMC team for Brabantse Pijl: Tom Bohli, Alessandro De Marchi, Silvan Diller, Floris Gerts, Ben Hermans, Manuel Senni, Dylan Teuns, Loïc Vliegen.
Wellens and Gallopin lead Lotto Soudal
Lotto Soudal’s two leaders for the Ardennes Classics, Tony Gallopin and Tim Wellens, will put the final touches to their build-up at Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday, where they both line up among the contenders for victory.
Wellens was an aggressive presence at the Tour of the Basque Country last week, though both he and Gallopin abandoned the race on the penultimate stage. Gallopin has already a solid start to the 2016 campaign, placing second at Etoile de Besseges, 6th at the Volta ao Algarve and 8th at Paris-Nice.
“Almost all riders from our roster participated in the Tour of the Basque Country and the stages were very hard, certainly due to the bad weather conditions. Hopefully everyone stays healthy during the next few days,” Lotto Soudal directeur sportif Marc Wauters said. “Tim Wellens and Tony Gallopin already showed this year that they’re in good shape. They will be the leaders during the Ardennes Classics.”
Lotto Soudal can also count on Thomas De Gendt, who landed solo victory on the toughest stage of the Volta a Catalunya last month. “This race is something for the riders who dare to attack early,” Wauters said. “It’s a race which is hard to predict and that makes it so beautiful. It depends on so many little things.”
Lotto Soudal team for Brabantse Pijl: Sander Armée, Sean De Bie, Thomas De Gendt, Tony Gallopin, Pim Ligthart, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.