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Stage winner Niko Eeckhout (An Post - Sean Kelly Team)
Verandas Willems replaces Vorarlberg-Corratec in Belgian season opener
An Post-Sean Kelly has been awarded the final wildcard slot for the Omloop Het Niuewsblad. In addition, Team Vorarlberg-Corratec has been replaced by Verandas Willems in the opening race of the Belgian season on February 27.
The race will feature 25 teams, including 13 ProTour teams, 10 Professional Continental, and the two Continental teams.
Race organiser Wm Van Herreweghe announced the final team line-up, saying that An Post-Sean Kelly's recent performances, “have managed to totally convince me. Niko Eeckhout and his team are clearly starting the season very ambitiously and deserved a place in the first Belgian race of the season,” he told the Belga news agency.
At the recent Etoile de Besseges, Eeckhout and Pieter Ghyllebert each brought in a third place and second place, before Eeckhout won the final stage.
The Belgian-based Continental team is happy to be in the race. “We had only a commitment for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne in the opening weekend at home,” said sport manager Kurt Bogearts. “Now there is the Omloop. We certainly won't be lacking in motivation to ride these two races.”
Van Herreweghe also said that the Austrian Professional Continental Team Vorarlberg-Corratec had told him it would not ride the race, to which it had received a wildcard invitation. Its place was given to the Belgian Continental team Verandas Willems.
The teams for the 65th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:
ProTour teams: Omega Pharma-Lotto, Quick Step, Saxo Bank, AG2R-La Mondiale, Française des Jeux, Team Sky, Team Milram, Liquigas, Rabobank, Katusha, Garmin-Transitions, RadioShack, Team HTC-Columbia
Professional Continental teams: Landbouwkrediet, Topsport Vlaanderen, BBox Bouygues Télécom, Cofidis, Saur-Sojasun, Acqua & Sapone, Skil-Shimano, Vacansoleil, Cervélo, BMC Racing Team
Continental teams: Willems Verandas, An Post-Sean Kelly