Yet to make an impact this cobbled classics season, Argos-Shimano is looking to show improvement this Sunday at the Tour of Flanders. Sports manager Marc Reef said that he had seen gains made over the last week and believes it will be evident out on the road.
The team will focus their efforts on John Degenkolb, a former third place-finisher in the U23 Ronde. The German sprinter finished in 65th place in both E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, having gone into Milan-San Remo with thigh muscle pain and earning a top-20 finish.
"I'm looking forward to the weekend," Degenkolb said. "I am aware that I haven't yet shown what I'm capable of and that I still need to get into perfect shape, but I'm convinced that I can do that this week with the right training. If I'm in perfect shape I can play a role in the finale. The most important thing is positioning during this race. I will need all the help of my teammates to start the climbs with the first 10 guys.
"We will see how my form is soon enough, as these typical Belgian climbs will only let the strongest men win," he continued. "If you are in perfect shape you can make a difference on these climbs; if you are not that good, you will suffer the whole day. You will have a lot of pain and every hill will be horrible."
A non-starter in Gent-Wevelgem and a non-finisher at E3 Harelbeke having recently returned from a fractured collarbone, Koen de Kort will be a team leader for the Dutch outfit.
"I have just finished a couple of training sessions to get into top shape," he said. "The last races went OK but not how they should have. This week I prepared in Spain, doing some important training, so I'm fully motivated and ready to support John, who I have a lot of faith in."
The Argos-Shimano line up for the Tour of Flanders: Nikias Arndt, Bert de Backer, Will Clarke, Roy Curvers, John Degenkolb, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Koen de Kort and Ramon Sinkeldam.
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