The Omloop Het Volk on Saturday, February 26, marks the opening race on the Belgian calendar and kicks off the two month long northern classics season. Many teams typically choose to reconnoitre the parcours of Het Volk several days before the race, in order to re familiarise themselves with the innumerable twists and turns that make up the course and the unbridled joy of riding over lots of cobbles.
The race was cancelled last year due to snow, and organisers will be crossing their fingers that the weather will be kinder this year. The forecast for the next few days is generally positive, if a little ambiguous: "variable cloudiness, dry or risk of snow showers" with temperatures hitting a balmy 3 degrees during the heat of the day. But this being Belgium, anything can happen and probably will, all within 10 minutes of each other.
The top Belgian team this season has been Davitamon-Lotto, which has been winning left, right and centre with its posse of sprinters and one day specialists. They will ride the parcours on Wednesday, starting from Deinze and taking in the hill zone and various other crucial points. The team for Saturday is Peter Van Petegem, Tom Steels, Nico Mattan, Johan Vansummeren, Wim Vansevenant, Aart Vierhouten, Leon van Bon and Robbie McEwen.
Arch-rivals Quick.Step will ride the parcours on Tuesday morning, starting from Gent. Led by Tom Boonen, Quick.Step will ride the entire route with the exception of the Muur van Geraardsbergen. Also down for a Tuesday recon are the boys from MrBookmaker.com-SportsTech, with Frank Vandenbroucke present in an instructional role, as he will not race on Saturday.