The Tour of Flanders might be over a week away with many an important race between now and then but that didn’t stop the Leopard Trek team from riding reconnaissance over the route on Thursday.
The team, led by last year’s winner Fabian Cancellara, used their recovery ride after yesterday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen to ride 70 kilometres of the most crucial sections of climbs and cobbles.
Basing themselves in Marke, just outside of Kortrijk, Belgium for the cobbled Classics, the team took a short bus ride to the Kruisberg before mounting up and enjoying the two and a half hour spin in the sunshine.
“We’ll do between 60 or 70 kilometres, the central part of the Tour of Flanders,” said the team’s director Torsten Schmidt.
“We do this every year so they get the pictures back in their heads. It’s all for Flanders.”
“It’s a big goal, for every team, but especially if you have the defending champion in your squad. It’s always good to use the time here in Belgium to do things like this.”
Before reaching Flanders though, Leopard Trek will compete in both of this weekend’s races, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem. Cancellara won the former last year after breaking away with Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) and dropping the pair before the finish.
“We have two more races this weekend and then the whole of next week,” said Schmidt.
“I’m confident that we have other cards to play in the race and the guys are loyal to each other so we can fulfil a number of situations with other riders in the team.”
In all likelihood Cancellara will be supported by the majority of the team on show in Belgium, with Dominic Klemme, Joost Posthuma, Stuart O’Grady and Wouter Weylandt forming the core of the team for Flanders.
“It’s too early to talk about tactics for Flanders because so many things can happen between now and the race, which is still several days away. It’s not a secret if you have Cancellara, you know he will try something, but there are many different circumstances that can crop up in the race. Today is just about going very easy after yesterday’s race.”