Deceuninck-QuickStep may have missed out at Gent-Wevelgem at the weekend, but the Belgian team will have plenty of cards to play as they look to resume their run of success at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday.
Yves Lampaert is expected to leading the way for Deceuninck-QuickStep. He became the first rider to win back to back titles at the one-day race when he took yet a solo victory in Waregem last season.
Lampaert will be backed up by Philippe Gilbert, who finished runner-up and helped set Lampaert up for victory in 2017. Both riders have played a support role so far this spring, but Dwars door Vlaanderen will be an opportunity to take advantage of their own opportunities. Zdenek Stybar is absent as he rests up for Sunday's Tour of Flanders.
Bob Jungels gives Deceuninck-QuickStep a third option and has shown just how adept he is at taking on new challenges with his performances this spring. Jungels finished 16th at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad before going onto win Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and his long-range attack at E3 Harelbeke helped set up Stybar for victory. This will be Jungels’ second appearance at Dwars door Vlaanderen after his first ride in 2013.
If none of Gilbert, Lampaert or Jungels can get away, then the team has the young Alvaro Hodeg in the case of a sprint finish.
“For many riders, Waregem is important because they want to test themselves ahead of Flanders; we too want to see what we can do again as a team in this last appointment before De Ronde and get a good result at the end of the day,” said Deceuninck-QuickStep directeur sportif Tom Steels.
Completing the team’s line-up will be Kasper Asgreen, Iljo Keisse and Florian Sénéchal, who won Le Samyn last month. Elia Viviani has already ended his spring campaign and is taking a break before the Giro d'Italia. Julian Alaphilippe is also recovering after his Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo victories and will spearhead Deceuninck-QuickStep's squad in the Ardennes Classics.
Dwars door Vlaanderen is very much one of two halves with the opening stretch of the 183km race comparatively flat. However, the latter part of the race will provide much more of a challenge with 10 climbs and seven cobbled sectors coming inside the final 70 kilometres.
Deceuninck-QuickStep hope to assert as much control on the race in the early part with the hope of getting as many riders as possible into front group at the crucial moment.
“The first 80 kilometres are flat, and we will try to control things there, as we have the riders capable of doing that, even if it’s not going to be an easy task,” said Steels. “Once we’ll hit the hilly section, it will be quite hard, especially with the cold and rain which are sure to make a selection, so we can expect quite an attritional race on Wednesday.”
Deceuninck-QuickStep for Dwars door Vlaanderen: Yves Lampaert, Philippe Gilbert, Bob Jungels, Kasper Asgreen, Alvaro Hodeg, Iljo Keisse and Florian Sénéchal.