The American WorldTour team had to wait until Paris-Nice to pick up their first win of the season courtesy of Andrew Talansky and directeur sportif Geert Van Bondt says he will use Wednesday's race as an indicator of rider form ahead of biggest spring objectives.
Dwars door Vlaanderen is 199 kilometres but the race can been broken up into two distinct sections. The first 90 kilometres are relatively flat but the second half of the race sees the peloton take on 13 bergs before the finish in Waregen. In essence it's a practice run ahead of E3, Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders: all of which, unlike Dwars door Vlaanderen are WorldTour status.
"We'll work on our own tactics and maybe try to control the early breaks and then we'll try and help our leader to the Kattenberg and help the front and then Andreas Klier, David Millar, Jack Bauer and Seb Rosseler can have an open race and we'll see how far they can go. This will give me a good indication as to how they're going for the weekend races," Van Bondt told Cyclingnews.
The team will be without Tyler Farrar, who is recovering from his Milan-San Remo crash and aiming at E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem. Nick Nuyens, - the 2011 winner of the Tour of Flanders - is continuing his recuperation from a knee injury, while the team will have a late fitness call on Martijn Maaskant's injured knee.
"We had Nick Nuyens but he's had some problems with his hip. He trained this week in Spain but he's not going to start. Then we had Maasksant who had problems with his knee so he's a question mark for Dwars door Vlaanderen. Then we have Rathe who crashed on the first stage of Paris-Nice so he's been out. It's going to be depending on Klier, Millar, Bauer and Rosseler. It's going to be hard though if you look at the predicted weather. We're not at our strongest but we still think we have a good team. The main objective is for E3 and Gent-Wevelgem."