Gallery: Riders recon Omloop Het Nieuwsblad route

BMC, LottoNL-Jumbo, Lotto Soudal on the cobbles

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the first cobbled classic of the 2015 season is almost here, but only a few intrepid teams took to the 200km course through Flanders to check on the condition of the 'bergs'.

BMC was out in force, with Greg Van Avermaet, last year's runner up, riding next to teammate Philippe Gilbert, a two-time winner of the race (2006 and 2008). Both have shown good form in the early season and will be expected to share leadership in the race.

LottoNL-Jumbo had the entire team out, with Sep Vanmarcke especially motivated to improve upon last year's fourth place. Vanmarcke won the event in 2012, and is still waiting to get back onto the top step of a classics podium after coming second in Paris-Roubaix and third in the Tour of Flanders.

Lotto Soudal rode the course earlier in the week, and former Belgian champion Jurgen Roelandts felt fine during the ride, but was quickly struck down with the flu and will not start. He will be replaced by Kenny De Haes.

Why do riders pre-ride a course they've done before? Marc Sergeant, manager of Lotto Soudal explained, "The route doesn't differ much from the past years, but a recon is useful. The riders can take a look at the crucial phases and mark points for during the race. The wind will play an important role, the riders can get an idea of what influence that will have.

"If on Saturday the wind heads in the same direction as today it will be tailwind. A recon is also good for the youngsters in the team like Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx and Sean De Bie."

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