Mark Cavendish is set take part with his Omega Pharma – Quick Step team in the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen this weekend. The race is a new addition to the Manx rider’s schedule following the cancellation of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and is being used to prepare him for Tirreno-Adriatico.
The team will be seeking to repeat the overall victory of Julien Vermote, who joins Cavendish for the Belgian three-day stage race.
The Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen begins with a 7km prologue in Middelkerke, which last year was won by Quick Step’s Michal Kwiatkowski ahead of Vermote. It is followed by a 175.4km stage from Brugge to Harelbeke, which has a few hard climbs and a slightly uphill finish. The final stage is 181.8km from Nieuwpoort to Ichtegem, featuring many hills, including the Keiberg and the Ruidenberg, which are climbed three times in an 11km final circuit.
"The race will be similar to last year's race, and last year we won with Vermote," said directeur sportif Tom Steels said. "The most important stage will be the one on Sunday with the climb of Monteberg and Kemmel. Last year this stage was really difficult because of terrible weather conditions.
“We will count on a very strong group of riders for this race, including Niki Terpstra - who is in good condition - and Gert Steegmans, who will start working on setting up the sprint and his leadout with Mark. Our objectives are to try and win a stage and repeat the good GC results of 2012. We have the potential to do that."
Omega Pharma-Quick Step for Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen: Dries Devenyns, Frantisek Rabon, Gert Steegmans, Iljo Keisse, Julien Vermote, Kristof Vandewalle, Mark Cavendish, Niki Terpstra