Several national teams took advantage of a day without racing at the UCI Road World Championships to train on the road race course and check out the crucial Cauberg climb that is expected to play a huge role in deciding who pulls on the rainbow jerseys.
Americans Tejay Van Garderen and Taylor Phinney used their ride to recover from the efforts of the time trial, while other teams spent several hours in the saddle.
Italian national coach and two-time former world champion Paolo Bettini rolled out with the Italian team for several laps of the course after posing for an official team photo. He discussed tactics with road captain Luca Paolini and key riders in the squadra azzura: Vincenzo Nibali, Moreno Moser and Diego Ulissi.
Alberto Contador tried to put the disappointment of Wednesday’s time trial behind and pulled on the red and yellow Spanish kit for a recovery ride along with teammate Alejandro Valverde –one of the favourites thanks to his climbing ability and fast finish.
Thousands of Belgian cycling fans are expected to cross over into the Netherlands to cheer on Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert on Sunday. Both riders are on form and give the Belgian team a formidable array of tactical options. Both looked relaxed and confident during the ride, with Boonen stopping to say hello to Paolo Bettini after the Italian switched to a scooter to follow his riders.
All the teams enjoyed the sunny and dry conditions in Limburg on Thursday, perhaps knowing that showers are expected for Sunday’s elite men's road race.