Valverde to lead Movistar at Strade Bianche
Alejandro Valverde will lead the Movistar team at Strade Bianche on Saturday. The 200km race starts in San Gimignano and finishes in Siena, where the Spaniard hopes to top his third-place performance from last year.
Valverde’s teammates will be Andrey Amador, Giovanni Visconti, Jasha Sütterlin, Marc Soler, Pablo Lastras, Fran Ventoso and Enrique Sanz.
The team also confirmed their Paris-Nice roster that will include Spanish road race champion Ion Izagirre and Beñat Intxausti along with Imanol Erviti, Rubén Fernández, Dayer Quintana, Eros Capecchi, Gorka Izagirre and José Joaquín Rojas.
Etixx-QuickStep announce Strade Bianche and West-Vlaanderen rosters
Etixx-QuickStep will line up for Strade Bianche without defending champion Michal Kwiatkowski, who will start Paris-Nice on Sunday. Only Rigoberto Uran will return from the team’s 2014 Strade Bianche squad.
“That is why tomorrow we will recon the parcours. But we have a really good team here,” said team director Davide Bramati.
“It's the same parcours of last year,” Bramati said. “It's a selective parcours with two long gravel sectors, one of 9.2km at Sector 6 and another of 11.5km. At the exit of Sector 7 the race will have a different feel to it. As last year, there will likely be a select group in front at that point, then the rest of the race will start with a lot of up and down until the finish in Piazza del Campo.”
Despite lacking the defending champion, Bramati believes the team will be in with a chance in the finale.
“We have guys who can thrive in difficult race conditions, such as Zdenek Stybar and Niki Terpstra,” he said. “We have riders for the hills such as Uran, Pieter Serry, Carlos Verona, and Gianluca Brambilla.
“We also have riders who are familiar with these kinds of roads because of their experience in the Northern Classics, such as Fabio Sabatini and Julien Vermote. So even our selection this year is competitive. For sure our goal is to try be there and play a role in the victory.”
Etixx-QuickStep for Strade Bianche: Gianluca Brambilla, Fabio Sabatini, Pieter Serry, Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra, Rigoberto Uran Uran ,Julien Vermote, Carlos Verona
The Belgian team also announced the seven riders who will compete in Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, a Belgian three-day race that begins Friday, March 6, and ends Sunday, March 8. The roster for that race includes Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert, Gianni Meersman, Petr Vakoc, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Martin Velits , Lukasz Wisniowski.
Farrar and Bos lead MTN-Qhubeka at Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen
“We are coming to 3 Days of West Flanders with clear goals,” said J.P Heynderickx, the team’s director. “We want to a win a stage. We have a strong team with riders capable of contesting for the victory on the two road stages. The racing will be tough as it always is in Belgium but our team is prepared for these circumstances.”
Gerald Ciolek took the first victory for the South African Professional Continental team during the 2013 edition when he won the final stage in Ichtegem.
This year’s team will include Tyler Farrar, Theo Bos, Jay Thomson, Jaco Venter, Johann van Zyl, Adrien Niyonshuti, Matt Brammeier and Serge Pauwels. Farrar recently placed 11th at the Le Samyn on Wednesday.
The race continues on Saturday with a 174.1km race from Brugge to Harelbeke and concludes on Sunday with a 184.5km stage from Nieuwpooort to Ichtegem.
New start for Nokere Koerse
The 70th edition of Nokere Koerse will bring a new start to the semi-classic on March 18. The start will take place in the main market of Deinze and not in Ronse, but will still finish atop the Nokereberg.
"With the loss of Ronse as the start we were forced to look for another location. We received numerous proposals, but ultimately the choice fell on Deinze," said race director Rony Desloovere.
"Naturally because of the new start, there are new roads in the course with it. From Deinze they will make a small loop and then head towards Oudenaarde, Kaster, Waregem and Kruishoutem. In Nokere after 79.3 kilometers of racing, the riders have another eight local laps of 14.8 kilometers each. The finish is top Nokereberg."