"This will be an important weekend," Quick.Step's Tom Boonen said of this Saturday's Omloop Het Volk. Boonen finished second last year behind his teammate Nick Nuyens. "I'm really looking forward to it and can't wait to be on the starting line. Our team is really good and we've got lots of very capable riders. The most important thing for me is that one of us is able to win even though there are five or six other 'big names' in good condition. I'm referring to Van Petegem or McEwen, who have both proven to be in excellent form.
"[Nick] Nuyens told me that the route has been changed, during the final there will be long straight sections. Most probably the race will be decided in the final sprint - we'll soon see. We've got lots of alternatives with Nick and the other team members. I'm in good form. On Monday and Tuesday, I trained in and around Monte Carlo for about five and a half hours each time. On Monday I also rode the last few kilometres of Milan-Sanremo, including the Cipressa and Poggio. It is always good re-riding this route."
Defending champion Nick Nuyens will be a handy alternative for the heavily marked Boonen. "I'm in good form and am pretty sure I'll do well during Saturday's race," he said. "We've got a very well-balanced team. As always, a little bit of luck helps in winning. I'm sure it will be fundamental to have more than one rider in the breakaway attempts that are sure to take place during the finale. The race route has changed slightly - during the final kilometres there will now be lots of very long straight sections that will only favour any chasers. We'll need to be very strong to win at the end of a breakaway. I think the wind will certainly play an important role in the race."
Kevin Van Impe, in his first season with Quick.Step, seems to have acclimatised quickly to his new surroundings, and is in full preparation to ride his first big race with the team: "We're one of the best teams starting the Omloop Het Volk this weekend. It's all new to me; to ride in full service of the team leaders. It's going to be quite special for me to ride in this area (Van Impe lives close to Zottegem), I'm expecting a lot of people to be cheering me on." he told local Kanaal3 TV.
Van Impe's well informed of what his duties will be on the weekend. "My task is to bring the team leaders to the front on the important stretches of the parcours and then try to keep hold of the group. My job will be just doing as I'm told really."
Quick.Step will field the following team for Het Volk: Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Steven De Jongh, Kevin Hulsmans, Servais Knaven, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato, Kevin Van Impe. D.S.: Wilfried Peeters.
For Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday, the squad will be Tom Boonen, Serge Baguet, Steven De Jongh, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato, Bram Tankink, Kevin Van Impe, and Wouter Weylandt. D.S.: Wilfried Peeters.
Paolo Bettini will be in action in Switzerland in the weekend's double header, riding the GP Chiasso and GP Lugano. He will be joined by Davide Bramati, Ivan Santaromita, Leonardo Scarselli, Hubert Schwab, Jurgen Van De Walle, Cedric Vasseur and Remmert Wielinga on Saturday, and Davide Bramati, Ivan Santaromita, Leonardo Scarselli, Hubert Schwab, Jurgen Van De Walle, Cedric Vasseur, and Remmert Wielinga on Sunday.