Four teams riding this Sunday's Tour of Flanders announced their squads for the event overnight, with Quick Step the obvious favourite, full of stars capable of winning what is essentially its 'home' race.
Boasting reigning champion Stijn Devolder and dual Flanders winner Tom Boonen, Patrick Lefevere's team also includes Sylvain Chavanel and Carlos Barredo, two riders capable of making headlines in the cobbled race.
While Devolder has featured in the Belgian media during the last week, he appears to remain relaxed and focused on the event, explaining that the recent KBC-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde has been useful preparation.
"The last couple of days I've tried to fine tune my fitness as much as possible," said Devolder. "These past few weeks I've been working so I can be 100 percent on Sunday. I'm fine physically and mentally I feel fresh and calm.
"In my opinion the race favourites are the three riders who made it to the podium in Harelbeke, meaning [Fabian] Cancellara, [Tom] Boonen and [Juan Antonio] Flecha. But as always there will be other riders to watch out for. Both Tom and I have a chance at winning this race for the third time. But I don't want think about it; I just want to have a great race."
Meanwhile, HTC-Columbia is taking a squad with the form to cause an upset. Recent Gent-Wevelgem winner Bernhard Eisel will ride alongside Mark Cavendish and 2009 Paris-Brussels winner Matt Goss. Hayden Roulston is back in Flanders with one of his season objectives in sight.
The big names will not only have to be strong but play 'the Flanders game' to perfection in order to be in contention, believes Quick Step directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters. "I think the route will be very selective," he said. "I don't think there will be many riders left at the wall in Grammont. The wind is also going to be a major factor."
Quick Step: Carlos Barredo, Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Stijn Devolder, Kevin De Weert, Kevin Hulsmans, Matteo Tosatto, Maarten Wynants.
HTC-Columbia: Mark Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel, Matt Goss, Vicente Reynes, Hayden Roulston, Marcel Sieberg, Martin Velits
BBox Bouygues Telecom: Thomas Voeckler, Steve Chainel, William Bonnet, Mathieu Claude, Yohann Gene, Damien Gaudin, Alexandre Pichot and Sebastien Turgot.
Landbouwkrediet: Bert De Waele, David Boucher, Kevin Neirynck, Frédéric Amorison, Davy Commeyne, Koen Barbé, Bert Scheirlinckx, Geert Verheyen.
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