Tour of Flanders training - Gallery

Naesen declares himself fit to start after previewing cobbled climbs

The Friday before the Tour of Flanders marks a critical final phase in the riders' preparation for the biggest race in Belgium - the pre-ride of the course allows the contenders to take one last look at the cobbled climbs, narrow roads and sharp turns that will shape the race on Sunday.

The preview was of utmost importance to Belgian champion Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), who injured his knee in a crash during Wednesday's rainy Dwars door Vlaanderen. The pavé now dry, Naesen tackled some of the route and declared himself fit to start.

The day was also a big one for Vincenzo Nibali and his Bahrain-Merida teammates: the Milan-San Remo winner will race the Tour of Flanders for the first time - presumably in preparation for the cobbled stage of the Tour de France in July, but his presence in the race is intriguing since he has already demonstrated in 2014 that he is quite at ease on the pavé.

Mitchelton-Scott were also out en force, with the team looking to finally capture the one Monument which has eluded them. Astana, Trek-Segafredo and even former rider and now-banned directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel also previewed the route, the latter for Saturday's Ronde van Vlaanderen sportif.

Click or swipe through the gallery above.

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