On Wednesday Quick Step scouted out the route of the 64th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (formerly known as Het Volk). The team that will ride the opening Classic on Saturday checked out a good 160 km of the course. The only member not present was Tom Boonen, who is still recovering from jet lag after the Tour of California.
The team checked out the decisive climbs, including the Molenberg. The Molenberg is the last of the 11 hellingen of the day in the Omloop. The rise is 460m long with a maximum gradient of 14 percent and has some pretty bad kasseien, the Flemish word for the cobble stones.
Quick Step has a slight handicap, with not having defending champion Steven de Jongh and Sébastien Rosseler. With Boonen and 2008 Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Stijn Devolder the team is still in a good position. Devolder told DH.be that he expected the biggest threat from rivalling Silence-Lotto.
Devolder himself does not expect to be at his best yet. "Due to my knee problem in the winter I am a little bit behind. It is not too bad, as I have a good base." Devolder added training kilometres in the Volta ao Algarve and the Ruta del Sol earlier in the month.
Devolder said he can do a good race, "but not pull a number like Gilbert did last year." Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) rode the last 50 km solo to clinch his second Omloop title.
Devolder added that one of his teammates will be very motivated. "The race is in Wouter Weylandt's area." Weylandt lives near Gent and knows the parcours by heart. "Wouter is in good form and he can count on his burst of speed"