By Bjorn Haake
The 49th edition of the Brabantse Pijl ("arrow of Brabant") will be run in Belgium on Sunday, March 29, 2009 over 193.3 kilometres. With 15 little climbs and an uphill finish it is not a race made for pure sprinters.
However, the event can suit a strong rider who knows how to handle a sprint, like Oscar Freire proved from 2005 to 2007, when he won this race three times in a row. The Spaniard won't be at the start this year, handing the role of favourite to Quick Step's Allan Davis.
Davis can handle an uphill sprint well and his fourth place in Milano-Sanremo showed that he is in great form. Considering the Brabantse Pijl is a good hundred kilometres shorter than the Italian Classic, the Australian should have fairly fresh legs to make the cut in the last laps.
Quick Step also showed in Dwars door Vlaanderen that the team is going strong, placing four riders in the initial break of eleven and then three riders in the decisive five-man move. It is no accident that both Davis and Quick Step lead the world rankings in their respective categories. Last year's winner Sylvain Chavanel, also a member of Patrick Lefevere's team this season, will however not defend his title.
Quick Step's Belgian rival team Silence-Lotto is still looking for a win in 2009. The squad decided to line up with Thomas Dekker and Philippe Gilbert as leaders, two riders who are also able to get away in the tricky finale and decide the race in a small group sprint or in a solo attack.
Both teams will have to have a watchful eye on Milram's Fabian Wegmann, but not on Gerald Ciolek, who is sick and won't be able to race. Wegmann is a puncheur who can get away on the little, steep climbs.
Read the full preview also featuring an outline of the race route.