Teams preparing for Belgian openers

The Belgian season opens this coming weekend, with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (formerly Omloop Het Volk)...

The Belgian season opens this coming weekend, with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (formerly Omloop Het Volk) on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday, and the participating teams are divided in their preparations this week for the Classics openers.

Team Quick Step will take to the Omloop course on Wednesday to check it out, but without captain Tom Boonen. The sprinter will still be recovering from his flight back from the Tour of California, the team said. The other riders from the Belgian team will put in 150 kilometres.

Silence-Lotto, the other Belgian ProTour team, will go further, aiming for 180 kilometres – if the weather holds.

Team Vacansoleil will use the week to check out the courses for both the Omloop and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. On Tuesday the team will ride the start and finish of the Omloop, and on Tuesday, will ride from the feeding zone of Sunday's race to the finish. The Professional Continental team was happy to announce that Baden Cooke will probably start Saturday's race, in spite of a recent sickness.

Astana and Cofidis are bucking the trend and won't check out the course this week. The Astana riders won't even arrive until Friday. "I will check out the new points and talk about them at the riders' meeting," Astana Directeur Sportif Dirk Demol told the belga press agency. "It is crazy to expect our foreign riders to come to Belgium three days early."(SW)

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