Kirsten Wild heads into Het Nieuwsblad as a clear favourite but despite mounting expectations on her shoulders, the 27-year-old is confident and relaxed that she can claim her second win in the race, after triumphing in 2008.
Wild won 15 races in 2009 and kicked off her 2010 campaign with a stage win and the overall victory in the Tour of Qatar earlier in the month. Now ranked as the second highest female cyclist in the world, the Dutch rider is starting the Classics season in good form.
"My form is going according to plan. I feel good and so does the team, and I think we can make a nice race but there are a few good competitors," said Wild. "It could be a really hard race. Emma Johansson and Chantal Blaak are very strong. But with good tactics, I hope it can come down to a sprint but I think I can win without it coming down to one. However there are girls in my own team that can also have a good result."
While Cervelo's men had a successful 2009 debut, with 29 victories, they were arguably overshadowed by their female counterparts who shot to the top of the team's world rankings, overhauling Columbia in the process. However, along with that success has come added pressure, but according to Wild, she and her teammates are leaning to thrive in the atmosphere.
"Of course you feel pressure. Last year we went to Qatar as a new team and everything you won was a bonus, but now if you don't win it's like you've taken a real loss. Yes, there's pressure, but it's good that you can put pressure on yourself. I'll just do my thing and hope that's good enough."
After Het Nieuwsblad, Wild will target the rest of the women's cobbled races, before honing in on the national championships in June and then the Worlds in Australia. "I like all these races here in Belgium," she said. "With all the bad weather, the cobbles the wind and the small climbs, it's great, so I go here with positive conditions."