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Alaphilippe and Ballerini step up as Deceuninck-QuickStep name Opening Weekend squads

Julian Alaphilippe
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) (Image credit: Getty Images)

World champion Julian Alaphilippe will lead Deceuninck-QuickStep onto the cobbles at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, as the in-form Davide Ballerini graduates to the Belgian team's Classics squad. 

The established core of Zdenek Štybar, Yves Lampaert, and Kasper Asgreen form the backbone for the Opening Weekend, with Colombian sprinter Álvaro Hodeg included for Sunday's Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

Alaphilippe only had his first taste of the cobbles in October, with an impressive but ultimately frustrating appearance at the Tour of Flanders. He lit up the race and went clear with Mathieu van der Poel and Wout Van Aert but his hopes and season were ended when he collided with a race motorbike. 

Clearly convinced of the Frenchman's prospects, Deceuninck-QuickStep have named him at the top of the bill for the Omloop, which acts as a prelude to the main Classics period later in the spring. 

Ballerini gets his call-up after winning two stages and the points classification at the recent Tour de la Provence. Like Alaphilippe, the Italian will only race on Saturday, when the squad will also feature Florian Sénéchal and Tim Declercq. 

"Julian will have another nice shot of showing what he is capable of doing on the Flemish roads, after last year’s De Ronde. It will be great to see him ride a prestigious race as Omloop clad in the rainbow jersey," said team director Tom Steels.

"We are curious to see Davide Ballerini – who had a superb start to the season in Provence – in action. Last year he was slated to make his cobbles debut for us, but due to the weird season that we had, this has been postponed for this year."

Štybar, Lampaert, and Asgreen are the only riders who will double up and race Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday, Štybar having won the Omloop in 2019 and Asgreen at Kuurne last year. 

Álvaro Hodeg will come in to add finishing speed for a race that, unlike the hillier and more selective Omloop, often ends in a bunch sprint. The Colombian was winless in 2020 and is likely to act as a fall-back option rather than a fully-backed leader, following last year's success when Fabio Jakobsen's presence in the bunch contributed to Asgreen's solo victory. 

The squad is completed by Stijn Steels, Jannik Steimle, and Bert Van Lerberghe. 

"It’s finally that time of the year, the Opening Weekend which riders and fans love so much. We are excited and really looking forward to it," said Steels.

"Styby is a former winner of Omloop, while Kasper produced a masterpiece at the previous edition of Kuurne. Yves, who was again strong on the cobbles last season, Florian, Tim – who everyone is used to see at the front pulling hard for the team – Alvaro, Jannik, Stijn and Bert will provide us with a lot of options and firepower for the weekend, which we await with plenty of confidence and motivation."

Deceuninck-QuickStep for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

  • Julian Alaphilippe
  • Kasper Asgreen
  • Davide Ballerini
  • Tim Declercq
  • Yves Lampaert
  • Florian Sénéchal
  • Zdenek Štybar

Deceuninck-QuickStep for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

  • Kasper Asgreen
  • Álvaro Hodeg
  • Yves Lampaert
  • Stijn Steels 
  • Jannik Steimle
  • Zdenek Štybar
  • Bert Van Lerberghe

Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.