French champion healthy again after bronchitis
After having had to skip Milan-San Remo due to bronchitis, Sylvain Chavanel (QuickStep) has decided to come back to racing earlier than previously planned. His initial race schedule did not include the midweek Belgian semi-classic Dwars Door Vlaanderen, but the Frenchman was eager to return to competition as he feels completely healed.
"Initially, I hadn't planned to race this Wednesday," Chavanel explained to L'Equipe. "But missing Milan-San Remo because of bronchitis has changed my plans. I've been able to rest and heal properly at my home, so now I feel ready to take on these first Flandrian competitions."
The French champion had suffered respiratory problems during Paris-Nice, which continued after the stage race. In accordance with the team's medical staff, it was decided that he should not race in Milan-San Remo, concentrating instead on getting healthy again.
Dwars Door Vlanderen, a one-day event to Waregem which Chavanel won in 2008, will be a first appetizer for the upcoming series of Flemish Classics. The riders will face no less than 13 climbs distributed along the route, including the Oude Kwaremont and the Patersberg, two key ascents in the next Tour of Flanders.
Alongside Chavanel, Gerald Ciolek, Gert Steegmans, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Iljo Keisse, Matthew Brammeier, Niki Terpstra and Nikolas Maes will take the start in Roeselare.
"It's an important race in which we will line up a squad that can bring results," said sports director Wilfried Peeters. "The race is just a few days before Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, so it will be also a very important test for us. In the finale the route is very challenging. The Nokereberg climb is located at only six kilometres from the finish so it could be a crucial point in the race.
"Overall, in the last 50 kilometres it will be important to be very careful, stay in the lead positions and take advantage of any eventual opportunities. On Wednesday, Chavanel will also return to racing, after having sat out Milano-Sanremo. This will be an important race for him as well to return to get back into race rhythm."
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