QuickStep-AlphaVinyl have named strong squads for both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne as they look to continue their run of early-season success on home roads and races they describe as their ‘bread and butter.’
The Belgian team has won ten races in the last three weeks and are hoping their strength in depth can be decisive on Saturday at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, while Fabio Jakobsen will be the protected sprinter for Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
Tour of Flanders winner Kasper Asgreen is part of the line-up for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad after making a rapid recovery from COVID-19 and recently riding the Volta ao Algarve. Also in the roster are Josef Cerny, veteran Iljo Keisse, 2020 runner-up Yves Lampaert, Florian Sénéchal, 2019 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Zdenek Stybar and Bert Van Lerberghe.
World champion Julian Alaphilippe has opted not to target the cobbled Classics in 2022, while Remco Evenepoel will next race at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Quick-Step-AlphaVinyl revealed that hard working domestique Tim Declercq won’t race at the weekend and for several weeks as he recovers from pericarditis.
"Symptoms are gone and there will be no long term negative effects but we will follow doctors advice, spent the next weeks off the bike, cheering for the wolfpack with little bit of a bleeding heart (figuratively) missing my beloved classic(s)
We we do try to come back stronger then ever," Declercq wrote in an Instagram message.
While Omloop Het Nieuwsblad contains 13 Flemish climbs and seven cobbled sectors, with the Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg combination usually creating a hard race, Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne is more of a sprinter’s race, with the final climb coming 50km from the finish.
Jakobsen has already won four sprints this season, and QuickStep-AlphaVinyl will ride to set him up for a fifth victory of 2022. Jakobsen and Jannik Steimle will replace Asgreen and Cerny in the roster, with Keisse, Lampaert, Stybar, Van Lerberghe and Sénéchal providing vital support.
“As a Belgian team, the Opening Weekend is always very exciting. The riders are looking forward to it, especially as it will be a good test for their condition," said QuickStep-AlphaVinyl sports director Tom Steels, who won Omloop in 1996.
“We have a lot of guys – Kasper, Yves, Florian and Zdenek – who can be there in the finale and fight for a good result in Omloop, but also one day later, when Fabio will be part of the team together with Jannik.
“In Josef, we have a new guy who maybe lacks some experience in this kind of races, but has a lot of horsepower and will be guided by Iljo, while Bert knows how to put our leaders in a good position before the crucial points on the course.”
Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of both races with Patrick Fletcher, Daniel Ostanek and Josh Croxton in Belgium and producing exclusive news, interviews and analysis.
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.