Both Gilbert and Van Avermaet competed in Milan-San Remo, where they both went on the attack, and with a congested Spring campaign Allan Peiper has opted to promote from within and give two of the team’s domestiques the chance to shine.
“I’m hoping that Marcus and Jempy ride well tomorrow. They have an opportunity where there are no other leaders and when you’ve got an opportunity like that you’ve got to take it. Marcus has won Gent-Wevelgem before and been on the podium in Harelbeke so he has the ability to do a good ride,” Peiper told Cyclingnews after the teams’ meeting in Roselere on Tuesday afternoon.
Etixx-QuickStep head into the race with three favourites in Mark Cavendish, defending champion Niki Terpstra and world champion Michał Kwiatkowski making a rare appearance on the cobbles. Even without the injured Tom Boonen the Belgian team pose arguably the strongest roster.
“As long as you can follow Terpstra you’ll be pretty good. It’s going to be a hard race and it’s really like a mini-Tour of Flanders with one climb after the other. The finish is close to the final climb so none of it is easy. You have to be at the head of the race.”
“Anything can happen in cycling these days so I don’t know if it’s going to be a bunch sprint or not. It’s a hard course so I expect it to break up. It could all come back together though.”
BMC Racing were on the front foot in Milan-San Remo, constantly attacking in a bid to break up the sprinters’ teams monopoly but despite missing out on a podium place Peiper believes that the team are on the right track as they search for their maiden cobbled classic.
“We were very pleased with how it went at the weekend. At San Remo, without a clear sprinter, we rode the best way we could in trying to disorganise the peloton. That’s all we can do. We were happy but the boys were disappointed but at the same time, pleased with how the team effort culminated.”