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Dwars Door Vlaanderen: start line picture gallery

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Belgian champion Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) is a popular man in Flanders.

Belgian champion Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) is a popular man in Flanders.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Katusha and Denis Galimzyanov ride Focus bikes.

Katusha and Denis Galimzyanov ride Focus bikes.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Russell Downing was part of a solid Sky team.

Russell Downing was part of a solid Sky team.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) is always a redoubtable performer on the cobbles.

Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) is always a redoubtable performer on the cobbles.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Alessandro Ballan (BMC) before Dwars Door Vlaanderen.

Alessandro Ballan (BMC) before Dwars Door Vlaanderen.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Matthew Hayman (Sky) has had a fine start to 2011.

Matthew Hayman (Sky) has had a fine start to 2011.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Stuart O’Grady (Leopard Trek) is back for more in Belgium.

Stuart O’Grady (Leopard Trek) is back for more in Belgium.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Katusha ride to sign on.

Katusha ride to sign on.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) greets Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) at the start.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) greets Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) at the start.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) exchange notes.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) exchange notes.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Irish champion Matt Brammeier (HTC-Highroad).

Irish champion Matt Brammeier (HTC-Highroad).
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) is in fine form this year.

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) is in fine form this year.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Gerald Ciolek is a new face at Quick Step.

Gerald Ciolek is a new face at Quick Step.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Andreas Stauff (Quick Step) rides to the start.

Andreas Stauff (Quick Step) rides to the start.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Fabian Cancellara’s steed.

Fabian Cancellara’s steed.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Luke Roberts and Saxo Bank-SunGard are equipped by Specialized.

Luke Roberts and Saxo Bank-SunGard are equipped by Specialized.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Coen Vermeltfoort (Rabobank) before the start in Roeselare.

Coen Vermeltfoort (Rabobank) before the start in Roeselare.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Lars Boom (Rabobank) mixes with the public before the off.

Lars Boom (Rabobank) mixes with the public before the off.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) will be hoping his numbers come up.

André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) will be hoping his numbers come up.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Take your pick. Roeselare’s Grote Markt was packed with stalls ahead of Dwars Door Vlaanderen.

Take your pick. Roeselare’s Grote Markt was packed with stalls ahead of Dwars Door Vlaanderen.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Dwars Door Vlaanderen is a big race for Veranda’s Willems-Accent.

Dwars Door Vlaanderen is a big race for Veranda’s Willems-Accent.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Maarten Neyens (Omega Pharma-Lotto) gets ready

Maarten Neyens (Omega Pharma-Lotto) gets ready
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Omega Pharma-Lotto aim to perform in Dwars Door Vlaanderen.

Omega Pharma-Lotto aim to perform in Dwars Door Vlaanderen.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) signs an autograph.

André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) signs an autograph.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)
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Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) greets the fans.

Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) greets the fans.
(Image credit: Barry Ryan)

Clear skies, pleasant temperatures and huge crowds greeted the riders as they assembled in Roeselare for Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday. After Saturday’s shoot-out in San Remo, the Classics focus shifts north, and the race from Roeselare to Waregem sees the countdown to the Tour of Flanders begin in earnest.

Many of the big names who will be battling for Ronde supremacy in ten days’ time were on the startline in Roeselare’s Grote Markt. As ever in Flanders, Tom Boonen drew the largest cheers from the passionate fans, and he will be looking to ignite Quick Step’s season with a big showing on the road to Waregem.

He will face stiff opposition from Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek), who looked in ominous form in Italy at the weekend. Alessandro Ballan (BMC) is another man in good condition, but although the former world champion is still seeking his first win of the season, he told Cyclingnews that BMC’s plan would be to set Greg Van Avermaet up for the sprint finish.

However, André Greipel, who leads Omega Pharma-Lotto in the absence of Philippe Gilbert, said that a sprint finish was unlikely in Waregem, with the climb of the Oude Kwaremont at 165km likely to rip the field to pieces.

Garmin-Cervélo have brought a strong line-up, and both Tyler Farrar and Heinrich Haussler will be seeking to make amends for a disappointing outing in Milan-San Remo. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Lars Boom (Rabobank) also lined up at the head of solid teams in Roeselare.

Yoann Offredo leads the FDJ challenge, although his manager Marc Madiot was less than expansive on his chances. Madiot  described his charge’s performance in San Remo was “good” and told Cyclingnews that Offredo would be hoping to finish “near the front.”

He certainly wasn’t the only one with such ambitions at the start of Dwars Door Vlaanderen, as spring arrived in Flanders.