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Hushovd, Phinney and Van Avermaet in BMC's Het Nieuwsblad team

Cycling News
February 26, 16:40,
February 26, 15:41
First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Norwegian champion Thor Hushovd (BMC) is ready for the final stage at Tour Méditerranéen

Norwegian champion Thor Hushovd (BMC) is ready for the final stage at Tour Méditerranéen

  • Norwegian champion Thor Hushovd (BMC) is ready for the final stage at Tour Méditerranéen
  • Thor Hushovd in his Norwegian champion's kit
  • Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) was in determined mood before Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
  • Taylor Phinney (BMC) rehydrates

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Rick Zabel to line up at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

Greg Van Avermaet, Thor Hushovd and Taylor Phinney have been named in the BMC team for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, while Rick Zabel is among the younger riders who will line up at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the following day.

The team is without the services of 2008 winner Philippe Gilbert for Belgium’s Opening Weekend, as the former world champion focuses his attention on the Ardennes classics and will not ride any cobbled races this spring.

In the absence of Gilbert and the sacked Alessandro Ballan, Van Avermaet will be BMC’s outright leader at the Tour of Flanders. After beginning his season at the Tours of Qatar and Oman, this weekend’s races are an important early gauge of Van Avermaet’s form as he builds towards April.

"You have the speed in Qatar, a little bit of climbing in Oman and good weather in both," said Van Avermaet, who finished 5th at Het Nieuwsblad last year. "For me, it is the best preparation for the classics. We will see how it goes, but I feel I am in pretty good shape and happy with my form."

Van Avermaet has a redoubtable foil at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in the shape of Thor Hushovd, who unleashed a ferocious sprint to win in Ghent in 2009. Hampered by illness when he joined BMC two years ago, Hushovd finished last season strongly and said that he is buoyed by a solid beginning to the current campaign at the Tour of the Mediterranean and Tour du Haut-Var, where he was a solo attacker on the second stage.

"With that in mind, I go to Belgium to race for the win," Hushovd said. "We have a strong team, which should be present from start to end. My level is high now, but I just have to follow, and hopefully have something left for a good sprint in the end."

The BMC team for Het Nieuwsblad also includes Taylor Phinney, who was so impressive in winning the inaugural Dubai Tour at the beginning of the month, as well as 2007 Gent-Wevelgem winner Marcus Burghardt.

As with most teams, there will be a slight refreshing of the line-up for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne the following day. While Van Avermaet is pencilled in for both races, Phinney and Hushovd are set to miss the second race.

Their absence opens a space at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne for neo-professional Rick Zabel, the German who won the under-23 Tour of Flanders last year in the colours of Rabobank Continental.

“This is a good chance for those guys, plus riders like Klaas Lodewyck and Rick Zabel, to get some good experience and have their own chances,” BMC directeur sportif Max Sciandri said of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

BMC team for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, March 1:

Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Silvan Dillier (Swi), Thor Hushovd (Nor), Klaas Lodewyck (Bel), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (Ita), Michael Schär (Swi), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel).

BMC team for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, March 2:

Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Silvan Dillier (Swi), Sebastian Lander (Den), Klaas Lodewyck (Bel), Manuel Quinziato (Ita), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel), Danilo Wyss (Swi), Rick Zabel (Ger).


Karl Von Drais 5 months ago
Unless these guys work as a team they will all have mediocre results. Why do teams still think that sending a squad of superstar leaders is the strongest way to go. Hasn't worked in cycling or yankees baseball.
rastymick 5 months ago
I don't see a squad of superstars. Hushovd has a nice palmares, Phinney could be a future superstar (but he still has a long way to go) and Van Avermaet is just a very consistent rider.
Karl Von Drais 5 months ago
So, you don't think this is a scenario of too many chiefs and not enough indians, but in fact a well rounded team for this event?
Jspear 5 months ago
Nope, not to many chiefs. I see this as a group of strong riders(which you want for a race like this), but they ain't all chiefs.
Cance > TheRest 5 months ago
I think the right way to see this, is to see Hushovd as a former superstar who still regards himself as a superstar that can match the best cobbles riders. Van Avermaet is a very consistent, but with no star-status/quality whatsoever. I think he should be the leader. Phinney is a rider with a lot of star-quality, but he lacks consistency (opposite of Van Avermaet) and haven't proved much in classics yet. I think BMC will have a problem in the main classics (RVV, GW and PR) if they don't choose one leader, Van Avermaet. Problem about choosing Van Avermaet is that he won't deliver a win. He's a top 5-10 guy that performs consistently. Hushovd and Phinney are long shots, that obviously can win (Hushovd can) on a very very good and lucky day, but they will most likely not.
kevinzamora 5 months ago
Too many chiefs? The article clearly (and underlined) says that Van Avermaet will be the outright leader for Omloop, without Hushovd and Phinney in Kuurne I doubt they'll choose anyone different for Sunday 's race.
Anthon_Z 5 months ago
Actually, no it doesn't. Van Avermaet is the leader for Flanders (as written), and Hushovd is quoted in the article as "going to Belgium to race for the win."
marcello 5 months ago
Teams with single leaders lose more races than teams with multiple leaders. Both lose way more than they win
anthonyz 5 months ago
I agree and I disagree with you, rastymick. Looking at the lineup of Omloop (not so much KBK), that is a list of riders that could all realistically be going for their own personal glory in the race. Even if there is just one protected captain, the mentality of the others might not be 100% in line with that goal. Sure, Hushovd is the only one on that list that could be classified as a "superstar," but the others have demonstrated strength and success in the past.
Dan Vella 5 months ago
The more potential winners the better. That said they all have to be prepared for one of the others (team mates) to win. Garmin rolled the dice in Paris-Roubaix a few years back and won the race, but not with the "leader" Hushovd. Thor went down in my estimation with the way he appeared to react to that situation.
Azerjaboomafar 5 months ago
As a Thor fan I have to agree. Did he want Van Summeren to sit up and wait for him? Atleast pretend to be happy for your teammate.
maplethedog 5 months ago
What the hell are you talking about Karl?
maplethedog 5 months ago
And I'm no Yankees fan, but haven't they won 27 or 28 World Series? Is a squad of bums better? I don't get it...
taborpolkadots 5 months ago
Agree in principle. The BMC team for these spring classics seems a lot like recent Garmin GT teams, a lot of potential top 10ers, IMO.
sam171 5 months ago
hushovd has always wanted to be team leader whenever he rides. hopefully, he realizes this isnt 2010 anymore. van avermaet has always been without support and still manages top 5 or top 10 results. would love to see what he is capable of when he is the designated leader.
maplethedog 5 months ago
I agree Sam...
Karl Von Drais 5 months ago
I also agree with Sam's post.
Karl Von Drais 5 months ago
What Sam said is kind of what I was going for earlier.
tokenron 5 months ago
"With that in mind, I go to Belgium to race for the win," Hushovd said. "We have a strong team, which should be present from start to end. My level is high now, but I just have to follow, and hopefully have something left for a good sprint in the end." This quote makes me think that Thor has no intention of doing anything for GVA or the team in general.
tokenron 5 months ago
apart from trying to win ;-)
Pedal Pusher 5 months ago
Perhaps this comment by Thor is part of the reason he has already said he's open to talk to other teams when his contract finishes with BMC at the end of this season. Yes he has had a torrid few years with disappointing results but if he is to continue to ride in 2015 he has to show results so of course he will be riding for a win for himself. I'd rather GVA do better and Phinney is on good form and open to supporting the best team member on the day. Thor understandingly is about protecting his future.