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Gallery: On the start line at Dwars door Vlaanderen

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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) used Dwars door Vlaanderen to prepare for the cobbles at the Tour de France.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) used Dwars door Vlaanderen to prepare for the cobbles at the Tour de France. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol).

Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol). (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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The peloton lines up for Dwars door Vlaanderen.

The peloton lines up for Dwars door Vlaanderen. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Stijn Devolder (Trek) is a perennial dark horse.

Stijn Devolder (Trek) is a perennial dark horse. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Mat Hayman brings a wealth of experience to Orica-GreenEdge's classics team.

Mat Hayman brings a wealth of experience to Orica-GreenEdge's classics team. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2012.

Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2012. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).

Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Nick van der Lijke (Belkin).

Nick van der Lijke (Belkin). (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Sam Bennett (NetApp-Endura) lines up for Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Sam Bennett (NetApp-Endura) lines up for Dwars door Vlaanderen. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) before Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) before Dwars door Vlaanderen. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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The bunch lines up in Roeselare for Dwars door Vlaanderen.

The bunch lines up in Roeselare for Dwars door Vlaanderen. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) reports for duty ahead of Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) reports for duty ahead of Dwars door Vlaanderen. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Please Mr. President. Barack Obama did not heed the invitation to attend Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Please Mr. President. Barack Obama did not heed the invitation to attend Dwars door Vlaanderen. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp).

Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp). (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Johnny Hoogerland (Androni-Venezuela).

Johnny Hoogerland (Androni-Venezuela). (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Belkin set out for the signing on podium, still without the injured Lars Boom.

Belkin set out for the signing on podium, still without the injured Lars Boom. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) arrives at Dwars door Vlaanderen fresh from Milan-San Remo victory.

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) arrives at Dwars door Vlaanderen fresh from Milan-San Remo victory. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) at the start of Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) at the start of Dwars door Vlaanderen. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Matt Goss has Gent-Wevelgem in mind.

Matt Goss has Gent-Wevelgem in mind. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Mat Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge) makes a last minute check.

Mat Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge) makes a last minute check. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Stijn Devolder (Trek) is always in demand ahead of the Flemish classics.

Stijn Devolder (Trek) is always in demand ahead of the Flemish classics. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Jasper Stuyven (Trek) at the start of Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Jasper Stuyven (Trek) at the start of Dwars door Vlaanderen. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Luke Rowe (Sky)

Luke Rowe (Sky) (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Daniel Oss (BMC) is searching for form after a late start to the season.

Daniel Oss (BMC) is searching for form after a late start to the season. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Danish champion Michael Morkov (Tinkoff-Saxo) prepares for the elements.

Danish champion Michael Morkov (Tinkoff-Saxo) prepares for the elements. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)
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Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) signs an autograph on the start line.

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) signs an autograph on the start line. (Image credit: Cyclingnews)

Just ten days from the Tour of Flanders, the countdown to Belgian cycling’s greatest occasion began in earnest in Roeselare on Wednesday morning as the peloton lined up for Dwars door Vlaanderen.

As ever, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) drew the largest cheers from the home fans, as he returned to action after missing Milan-San Remo for personal reasons. The Belgian often forgoes this race, but has opted to line up to ensure he has sufficient racing in his legs ahead of the weekend’s WorldTour races.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) lined up with a very different aim – the Spaniard is making a rare appearance in Flanders in order to familiarise himself with the cobblestones ahead of the Tour de France’s trek over the pavé in July.

Others in the field include Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), who admitted that he was still suffering from his exertions on the Riviera on Sunday, Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), Ian Stannard (Sky), Stijn Devolder (Trek) and last year’s winner Oscar Gatto, who leads Cannondale in the absence of Peter Sagan.

As ever in Flanders, however, the road to victory will doubtless go through Omega Pharma-QuickStep. As well as Boonen, the team includes Gert Steegmans, Andy Fenn and 2012 Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Niki Terpstra.