Team High Road will have two duties in Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen - one will be to place American George Hincapie into a good position to try to take his first Classic, while the other will be to keep André Greipel in the ProTour jersey.
Greipel, who won the Tour Down Under, underwent a bit of a change in his season plan after taking the jersey in Australia. Normally, the German would skip Flanders, but this year his position in the ProTour led his team manager, Rolf Aldag, to change those plans.
"He hadn't planned to do Flanders, but once he'd got the ProTour lead we changed his race program," Aldag said. "He's going quite well, with a third place in the Nokere Koerse [on March 19] but punctured in Harelbeke at exactly the wrong time."
Despite the responsibility of the ProTour defence, Aldag is counting on Hincapie, who placed third in the Tour of Flanders back in 2006 and fourth in 2002, to be the team's key player on Sunday. Hincapie knows the roads well, but will have Andreas Klier to help guide the way. Aldag said, ,"[Klier] will be our team captain, since he knows every corner of Flanders."
If the men's team doesn't score a win, they'll still have another chance with a strong women's team who will race the fifth edition of the event, which is also the third World Cup round. The team is anticipating a hard race, but are sure that their well-rounded squad will be able to take anything the course, or the other teams, can dish out.
"Experience is crucial in Flanders." argues team manager Petra Rossner. "and knowing the course. That's why we've already checked it out again in the build-up to the race, because there are always small but important changes."
The team will have "more than just one leader for sure. We're very flexible in this team, it depends on who's going well for each race and we take it from there. But we'll be ready."
According to High Road rider Oenone Wood - taking part in the Belgian race this year - Flanders could be more intense than usual in 2008.
"Judging from the last few weeks of racing, Flanders this year is going to even harder than the last." Wood predicted.
High Road Men's Team for Flanders: Bernhard Eisel (Aut), AndreGreipel (Ger), Bert Grabsch (Ger), George Hincapie (USA), Roger Hammond (GB), Andreas Klier (Ger), Vicente Reynes (Spa), Marcel Sieberg (Ger).
High Road's Women's team for Flanders: Judith Arndt (Ger), Kate Bates (Aus), Chantal Beltman (Hol), Luise Keller (Ger), Linda VIllumsen (Den), Oenone Wood (Aus).