Canyon-Sram Racing are taking aim at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with former winner Tiffany Cromwell and last year's runner-up Alexis Ryan. The first of the Belgian cobbled classics will run on Saturday, the first race of the Opening Weekend.
This year's edition of the race features 10 climbs, three more than last year, and five cobblestone sections, also more than last year. In 2018, a large group went for the sprint victory on a windy day. A different ending is expected this year.
"Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is an exciting race," Cromwell said. "For me this race holds a special place in my heart as it was one of the first big victories that I had in my career and I’ve had a number of good results over the years here.
"It can be a race with many different outcomes, from opportunistic breakaways to reduced bunch sprints. We can be battling arctic weather conditions or pleasant spring weather: You just never know what you’re going to end up with.”
The Muur and Bosberg climbs come near the end of the race, and Cromwell sees that as the key. “It’s the old final of Flanders and the Muur in particular has always been a decisive point for winning moves to be made, especially when it sits in the final part of the race."
Kasia Niewiadoma called the race "a big battle”, pointing out that all the riders want to be in the front before cobbles sections or punchy hills, so that means riders have to be focused 100 per cent from the start until the end. "The race is unpredictable and can be won by anyone; a sprinter or a climber can win,” she said.
Canyon-Sram for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Alice Barnes, Hannah Barnes, Elena Cecchini, Tiffany Cromwell, Kasia Niewiadoma and Alexis Ryan.