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Gallery: Tour of Flanders preparations

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Thor Hushovd sets the pace for BMC

Thor Hushovd sets the pace for BMC
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The banners were hung above the cobbles with care...

The banners were hung above the cobbles with care...
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Orica-GreenEdge on the Koppenberg

Orica-GreenEdge on the Koppenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Katusha out on the Koppenberg

Katusha out on the Koppenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Luca Paolini is easy to spot with his custom helmet paint job

Luca Paolini is easy to spot with his custom helmet paint job
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Luca Paolini trains on the Tour of Flanders course

Luca Paolini trains on the Tour of Flanders course
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The cobbles of the Koppenberg

The cobbles of the Koppenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Peter Sagan makes it look easy on the Koppenberg

Peter Sagan makes it look easy on the Koppenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Peter Sagan (Cannondale)

Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Peter Sagan (Cannondale) recons the Koppenberg

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) recons the Koppenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Stefano Zanini relives his moments in the Koppenberg

Stefano Zanini relives his moments in the Koppenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Peter Sagan (Cannondale) takes on the route of the Tour of Flanders

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) takes on the route of the Tour of Flanders
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling)

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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An Orica-GreenEdge rider tests out the cobbles

An Orica-GreenEdge rider tests out the cobbles
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The Koppenberg is a popular place on the Friday before Tour of Flanders

The Koppenberg is a popular place on the Friday before Tour of Flanders
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The fields of Flanders

The fields of Flanders
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Pros and amateurs alike tackle the Koppenberg

Pros and amateurs alike tackle the Koppenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Varying degrees of success on scaling the Koppenberg

Varying degrees of success on scaling the Koppenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Enthusiasts tackle the Koppenberg

Enthusiasts tackle the Koppenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tinkoff Saxo trains on the Tour of Flanders course

Tinkoff Saxo trains on the Tour of Flanders course
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Nicki Sørensen (Tinkoff-Saxo) tests out the gears

Nicki Sørensen (Tinkoff-Saxo) tests out the gears
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Sorensen chooses to save his legs and walks

Sorensen chooses to save his legs and walks
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Two different but equally valid ways to get up the Koppenberg

Two different but equally valid ways to get up the Koppenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Tinkoff-Saxo riders test out the Tour of Flanders route

Tinkoff-Saxo riders test out the Tour of Flanders route
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A Garmin-Sharp rider on the Koppenberg

A Garmin-Sharp rider on the Koppenberg
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lampre-Merida was out on the Koppenberg too

Lampre-Merida was out on the Koppenberg too
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A Europcar rider borrows the one-glove technique from Greg Van Avermaet

A Europcar rider borrows the one-glove technique from Greg Van Avermaet
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A fan watches the Lampre-Merida team come by

A fan watches the Lampre-Merida team come by
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Amateurs are thrilled to be passed by the pros

Amateurs are thrilled to be passed by the pros
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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 IAM Cycling test out the course from the Tour of Flanders

IAM Cycling test out the course from the Tour of Flanders
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Peter Sagan (Cannondale) drops back to the team car

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) drops back to the team car
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Pre-race favourite for the Tour of Flanders Peter Sagan

Pre-race favourite for the Tour of Flanders Peter Sagan
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Peter Sagan (Cannondale)

Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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John Degenkolb (Giant - Shimano)

John Degenkolb (Giant - Shimano)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing)

Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Gerald Ciolek (MTN - Qhubeka)

Gerald Ciolek (MTN - Qhubeka)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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 Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing)

Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Team Belkin and Omega Pharma-QuickStep join up on a training ride

Team Belkin and Omega Pharma-QuickStep join up on a training ride
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)

Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Jos Van Emden (Belkin)

Jos Van Emden (Belkin)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto) finished third in last year's Flanders

Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto) finished third in last year's Flanders
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Boom, Boom, Boom: Lars Boom leads the Belkin squad

Boom, Boom, Boom: Lars Boom leads the Belkin squad
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tinkoff - Saxo check out the course for Flanders

Tinkoff - Saxo check out the course for Flanders
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Tinkoff - Saxo riders are without a clear favourite ahead of the race but have plenty of experience

The Tinkoff - Saxo riders are without a clear favourite ahead of the race but have plenty of experience
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Room for two? Belkin and Omega share the cobbles

Room for two? Belkin and Omega share the cobbles
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Oscar Gatto and Peter Sagan will take on Trek and Omega at Flanders

Oscar Gatto and Peter Sagan will take on Trek and Omega at Flanders
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A young fan picks her moment before launching a killer attack on Peter Sagan

A young fan picks her moment before launching a killer attack on Peter Sagan
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Peter Sagan (Cannondale) tests his legs ahead of Sunday's race

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) tests his legs ahead of Sunday's race
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thor Hushovd (BMC) will be working for Greg Van Avermaet in Flanders

Thor Hushovd (BMC) will be working for Greg Van Avermaet in Flanders
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Sep Vanmarcke will lead the Belkin challenge in Flanders

Sep Vanmarcke will lead the Belkin challenge in Flanders
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Both Belkin and Omega Pharma QuickStep trained on the course

Both Belkin and Omega Pharma QuickStep trained on the course
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Can Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) find his top form in time?

Can Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) find his top form in time?
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) stretches his legs and his team

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) stretches his legs and his team
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

On the eve of the Tour of Flanders, the peloton is putting the last touches on their preparation - scouting the critical cobbled sections in between press conferences, massages, meals, and studying the road book, all the while trying to keep the nerves calm.

Race favourites, outsiders and domestiques alike mingled with locals and enthusiastic visitors on the famed cobbled ascents, highlighting the unique beauty of cycling, where the fans and the famous athletes come together on the same pitch.

A crystal clear day preceded this year's Tour of Flanders, and it's the calm before the storm. Sunday morning, the clouds will roll in, the cars will kick up plumes of dust across the countryside, and the gladiators will clash in the most beautiful of cycling spectacles.

Enjoy this gallery as you await the start of De Ronde.