Four WorldTour teams have confirmed their rosters for the UCI 2.1 Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde stage race which starts March 31 in De Panne. The three-day four stage race is a traditional warm-up for the Tour of Flanders which takes place Sunday, April 5.
BMC Racing will line up at the race with a young squad that includes 2014 U23 time trial world champion Campbell Flakemore and 2015 individual pursuit world champion Stefan Küng. Fellow new-signing Joey Rosskopf has also been selected for the race. Klaas Lodewyck, former runner-up Manuel Quinziato, Danilo Wyss and second year pro Rick Zabel complete the line up.
Lampre-Merida have made several changes to its provisional line-up which has seen fifth place getter at Milan-San Remo, Niccolò Bonifazio, pull out of the race to be replaced by Roberto Ferrari. After missing E3 Harelbeke and quitting Gand-Wevelgem due to illness, Filippo Pozzato returns to racing. Pozzato won the opening stage of the 2009 edition of the race.
Sacha Modolo returns to the race having won two stages last year and won the points classification.
Lotto Soudal line up at the race with Belgian national champion Jens Debusschere, Kris Boeckmans and German national champion André Greipel as options for stage wins but sport director Bart Leysen is expecting several hard days of Flemish racing to make it hard for the sprinters.
"I expect the wind to be an important factor the next few days, just like in Ghent-Wevelgem. According to the weather forecast the riders will have tailwind in the first stage, so there’s a big chance of echelons," Leysen said. "Together with the number of hills in the Flemish Ardennes in the second part of the stage, I think a limited group of riders will contest the stage win, which has its consequences for the number of riders that can win the overall classification."
Lars Bak, Sean De Bie, Pim Ligthart and Boris Vallée are the other to be selected for the race.
Katusha are sending its two main classics riders to De Panne, Alexander Kristoff and Luca Paolini, with the aim of claiming stage wins. Kristoff has won two stages at the race previously and enters this year's edition with five wins to his name. The Norwegian finished second at Milan-San Remo and won the bunch sprint at Gent-Wevelgem to further demonstrate his good start to the year.
Key lead out man Paolini proved himself the strongest rider in the peloton at Gent-Wevelgem as he soloed to victory and will again be one to watch having also previously won a stage at the race. Sven Erik Bystrøm, the 2014 U23 road race world champion, will make his debut at the race. Jacopo Guarnieri, Marco Haller, Aleksandr Porsev, Rudi Selig and Gatis Smukulis have also been selected for the in support of Kristoff.
BMC: Campbell Flakemore, Stefan Küng, Klaas Lodewyck, Manuel Quinziato, Joey Rosskopf, Danilo Wyss and Rick Zabel.
Lampre-Merida: Davide Cimolai, Roberto Ferrari, Sacha Modolo, Nelson Oliveira, Luka Pibernik, Filippo Pozzato and Maximiliano Ariel Richeze.
Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Kris Boeckmans, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Pim Ligthart and Boris Vallée.
Katusha: Sven Erik Bystrøm, Jacopo Guarnieri, Marco Haller, Alexander Kristoff, Luca Paolini, Aleksandr Porsev, Rudi Selig and Gatis Smukulis.