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Gallery: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad recon

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BMC Racing Team's classics crew puts in the miles on the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad cobbles.

BMC Racing Team's classics crew puts in the miles on the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad cobbles.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The BMC classics squad disappears into the fog.

The BMC classics squad disappears into the fog.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Manuel Quinziato, left, finds a smooth line in the gutter.

Manuel Quinziato, left, finds a smooth line in the gutter.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Vacansoleil-DCM squad previews the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad parcours.

The Vacansoleil-DCM squad previews the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad parcours.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vacansoleil-DCM riders stop for a train while previewing the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad route.

Vacansoleil-DCM riders stop for a train while previewing the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad route.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Manuel Quinziato (BMC) has plenty of experience in the cobbled classics.

Manuel Quinziato (BMC) has plenty of experience in the cobbled classics.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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BMC will field a strong team for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, featuring Belgian champion and former winner Philippe Gilbert.

BMC will field a strong team for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, featuring Belgian champion and former winner Philippe Gilbert.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM)

Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Will this be a preview of Saturday? Philippe Gilbert (BMC) alone in the lead?

Will this be a preview of Saturday? Philippe Gilbert (BMC) alone in the lead?
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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BMC Racing Team will have a strong line-up for the first of the Belgian classics, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

BMC Racing Team will have a strong line-up for the first of the Belgian classics, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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While many of the BMC riders know the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad route by heart, it's always good to preview the parcours near race time.

While many of the BMC riders know the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad route by heart, it's always good to preview the parcours near race time.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) attracts a camera crew even on training rides.

Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) attracts a camera crew even on training rides.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Philippe Gilbert drops back to the team car during BMC's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad pre-ride.

Philippe Gilbert drops back to the team car during BMC's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad pre-ride.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Italians Manuel Quinziato and Alessandro Ballan set the pace on a cobbled climb.

Italians Manuel Quinziato and Alessandro Ballan set the pace on a cobbled climb.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The BMC Racing Team rode the final 85km of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad parcours.

The BMC Racing Team rode the final 85km of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad parcours.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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BMC riders preview the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad course on a foggy day in Belgium.

BMC riders preview the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad course on a foggy day in Belgium.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Knowing the parcours is very important when the roads are no wider than driveways.

Knowing the parcours is very important when the roads are no wider than driveways.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) previews the cobbles.

Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) previews the cobbles.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Belgium's Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) is at home on the cobbles.

Belgium's Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) is at home on the cobbles.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is a former Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner.

Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is a former Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) ups the tempo while previewing Saturday's course.

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) ups the tempo while previewing Saturday's course.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Belgium's Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet don't seem to mind the weather conditions.

Belgium's Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet don't seem to mind the weather conditions.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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BMC's Philippe Gilbert and Taylor Phinney lead the team on a section of cobbles.

BMC's Philippe Gilbert and Taylor Phinney lead the team on a section of cobbles.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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BMC riders preview Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad parcours.

BMC riders preview Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad parcours.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

As the 2012 Belgian Classic season is about to commence with Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, plenty of teams have been pre-riding the parcours and on Thursday members of BMC Racing Team and Vacansoleil-DCM spent several hours getting re-acquainted with slick cobbles and foggy, drizzly weather.

The BMC squad will field two former Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winners, Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd, and the powerhouse classics squad is expected to be in the mix for victory on Saturday.

"For me, it is important to be here in Belgium, with the national champion's jersey," said Gilbert. "I will see how the race will go Saturday. It's not the most important race, but it is still a nice one. We have a strong team, it will be really helpful because the main thing here is to have many guys remaining in the group close to the finish and I think one of us can be close to the win."

Hushovd, the 2009 champion, will be making his eighth appearance in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but the first on the BMC Racing Team.

"It's the first big race together and we will really race for results so it will be nice to see the performance of each rider. For sure, we're a team strong enough to win. We just have to race well together and see how the race develops. Myself, I think my condition is getting better and better so it should not be too bad on the race."

For BMC directeur sportif John Lelangue, Thursday's pre-ride was an important opportunity to fine-tune the squad's preparation for race day.

"We did a good reconnaissance this morning of the last 85 kilometers of the race," said Lelangue. "After the winter where we had a nice training camp in Spain in different weather and road conditions, it was important to get all the riders together and go on those cobblestones and little climbs and special roads. Even if most of them know the parcours without even looking to the map, it's always good to remember – and to ride together and see the last roads and to also test the materials, new tires, tire pressure, etc. We will organize reconnaissance for almost all the classics. It's important for us."