Devolder hoping for rainy weekend

Quick Step co-leader gears up for Flandrian starters

Stijn Devolder is ready to take on the Belgian season opening races this weekend, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday. The Belgian Quick Step rider will be supporting his squad's leader Tom Boonen together with Sylvain Chavanel and is eager to race, even in the worst of conditions.

"Boonen is our leader, and together with Chavanel we are protected riders," Devolder told La dernière Heure after the team's reconnaissance ride of the Omloop course this week. "It's actually easier to win a real classic than the Nieuwsblad, because of the shorter distance and lesser difficulties.

"That being said, even if the last climb is at 35 kilometres of the finish, one can take advantage from it - especially if in bad weather conditions," he added. "I'd rather have some rain and bad weather this week-end!"

Speaking of which, the particularly cold winter has left its mark on the roads through Flanders, as the team discovered. With temperatures frequently well below zero degrees and lots of snow during the last two months, many roadsides are damaged, which will add further spice to the Flemish opener.

"The roads are in a desastrous state, with potholes everywhere," said Devolder. "On the major road to Haaghoek [one of the cobbled sectors near Zottegem - ed.] you'd think that a bomb has exploded on the tarmac. This will make the race even more nervous, if that's at all possible. We have to be very attentive, especially before getting to these first difficulties."

Last year, Devolder was put back by a knee injury, but this year, the two-time winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen wants to fight for the victory. "This time, I want to play a role in the finale with the other favourites," he concluded.

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