With two days to go until Gent-Wevelgem, HTC-Columbia’s squad spent Friday morning out on a short recovery ride. The American team will skip E3 Prijs Vlaanderen on Saturday and will instead ride reconnaissance over Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem course.
Tristan Hoffman will be the team’s director sportif in the race, as they aim to defend their title in a race won by the new departed Edvald Boasson Hagen. With E3 off the schedule, Hoffman believes that the team could start Gent-Wevelgem with one of the freshest squads.
“They are both really beautiful races,” he told Cyclingnews, before joining the riders on their coffee stop ride. “But we made the decision to only do Gent-Wevelgem because it would have been too much. Of course there are a big group of riders who do both so I hope they’re a little bit tired on Sunday morning.”
Besides the loss of Boasson Hagen, the team are also missing the services of Marcus Burghardt and George Hincapie. The trio of riders were Columbia’s only riders who made last year’s decisive early break. However Hoffman believes that despite not having a red hot favourite for the race, the team still hold quality in depth and riders who can slip under of radar of the big favourites.
“Okay, some of our riders left but we have good riders for this race,” he said.
“We have Eisel, Sieberg, Goss and Roulston. We don’t have a Cancellara or a Boonen on our team but we can get into breaks and everyone has a chance.”
Roulston is one rider that Hoffman believes can compete with the best. Although he may be missing some experience in these races, he finished fourth in Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne earlier in the year. “He showed he had a big engine and I hope he has held his form since them. With a bit of luck he can be in a break. He might get some freedom.”