The T-Mobile Team's countdown to the Tour of Flanders moves into its final phase this week with the KBC-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde (Three Days of De Panne) which starts on Tuesday. The event, which is one of the highlights of Flemish Cycling Week and the final build-up race before Sunday's Ronde, sees both of T-Mobile's British riders - Roger Hammond and Mark Cavendish - included in the starting roster.
"The Spring Classics are upon us and everything is now geared towards bringing the Team into this weekend's Tour of Flanders and next weekend's Paris-Roubaix in the best condition possible," said 21 year-old Cavendish. "The Three Days of De Panne are a hugely important part of our preparation and I hope I can play my part in a successful race for the Team."
Hammond spear-heads the eight man roster alongside sprinter Bernhard Eisel, who won a stage and finished runner-up overall in last year's edition.
The magenta sprint department will be out in force in Flanders as Eisel is joined by Eric Baumann, Gerald Ciolek, André Greipel and Brit, Mark Cavendish. The famous-five's focus will be quite clearly on controlling the stages and delivering one of their riders to the front in the event of bunch finish. The vastly experienced classics specialist Servais Knaven rounds out the roster at the three-day, four-stage race.
The race, which is held over a well-established parcours in East and West Flanders, features its fair share of cobbled sections and 'bergs', such as Berendries, Stuivenberg and Eikenberg. The proximity of the race route to the North Seas coastline means that crosswinds are also likely to play a role, warns T-Mobile Sporting Director Tristan Hoffman: "The strong winds will splinter the pack for sure. If you don't get into the rights group you can fall out of contention very quickly."
T-Mobile's Driedaagse van De Panna-Koksijde roster: Eric Baumann, Mark Cavendish, Gerald Ciolek, Bernhard Eisel, André Greipel, Roger Hammond, Andreas Klier, and Servais Knaven.
Sporting director: Tristan Hoffman