Before their scheduled race at the Tour of Qatar, Garmin-Barracuda’s Classics contingent travelled to Belgium to recon the Tour of Flanders route.
Led by new management of Allan Peiper and Geert Van Bondt the team rode over sections of the new course that will be raced for the first time this year.
The Tour of Flanders will this year finish in Oudenaarde instead of Meerbeke, thus omitting the race's most mythical helling, the Muur van Geraardsbergen. The new finale will include the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg, to be covered three times on a final circuit - with the Paterberg as the last ascent before the finish in Oudenaarde, 13km before the finish.
“Geert brought Tyler from Gent and Johan Van Summeren came with Thomas Dekker. Maaskant brought Haussler who came by train from Germany. Sep Van Marke lives 10kms from Oudenaarde where we started the ride at the museum. So six seasoned pro’s and me,” Peiper wrote on the team’s website.
“The boys went out of the blocks for the last 150km of the course because of the cold and after 5km we hit the Taaienberg followed by the Eikenberg. We did six climbs and four sections of cobbles before a long 35km section which is normally head wind before we started on the final three laps. Three times over the Kwaremont and Patersberg with a variation of other climbs each lap and 10kms flat to the finish.”
Garmin’s Classics roster has gone through some notable changes this year. Thor Hushovd – who never favoured Flanders – has moved to BMC. The team has drafted in Dekker and Seb Rosseler (formerly of RadioShack) and David Millar is expected to ride Flanders this year.
“All in all it was great to see the course, to talk about the changes and how the race may go — but best of all was hanging with the boys on the bike for some time because that’s really what its all about, just riding!”