Gent-Wevelgem start line quotes: Van Aert, Pidcock, Campenaerts, Pedersen

Gent Wevelgem 2022 84th Edition Ypres Wevelgem 2488 km 27032022 Wout Van Aert BEL Team Jumbo Visma photo Dion KerckhoffsCVSprintCyclingAgency2022
Van Aert speaks at the team presentation (Image credit: Dion KerckhoffsCVSprintCyclingAgency2022)

Cobbled Classics season rolls on with Gent-Wevelgem getting underway this morning as the peloton faces 249km of racing over the gravel Plugstreets, the North Sea winds, and cobbled climbs like the Kemmelberg en route to the finish this afternoon.

Star Classics riders such as Wout van Aert, Tom Pidcock, Yves Lampaert, Greg Van Avermaet and Mads Pedersen all lined up in the centre of Ypres ready to fight for the win over five or six hours of racing later.

Cyclingnews is on the ground in Belgium with Patrick Fletcher and Barry Ryan to get all the big news and interviews at the race, as well as through the rest of this year's Classics in Belgium. You can also follow Gent-Wevelgem live with us here.

Here's what the big names had to say at the start of the race.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)

Gent Wevelgem 2022 - 84th Edition - Ypres - Wevelgem 248,8 km - 27/03/2022 - Wout Van Aert (BEL - Team Jumbo - Visma) - photo Luca Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

Van Aert heads to the race start (Image credit: Luca Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency©2022)

"There's not a lot of wind, but that's not necessary for something to happen in De Moeren. The 'hill zone' is also a lot heavier than a couple of years ago. We're a team that wants to make the race hard today.

"It's a fun race because it's unpredictable. We are going to try to make the race hard – that is to our advantage.

"I was actually quite tired when I got up this morning. But this is always a tough weekend, as it is for most today." (Het Nieuwsblad)

Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers)

"I'm not 100 per cent but I feel good. Today the aim is just to have fun, enjoy the race and get stuck in really. Finish with a good feeling.

"I'm happy to be back racing in Belgium. Today the wind is a big part in this race. I don't know how strong it will be. It'll probably pick up later. I've never raced here so I think I'll look to the experience of other guys in the team. For sure, the race will be fast and hard and it won't be a bunch sprint."

Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)

Danish Mads Pedersen of TrekSegafredo pictured in action during the E3 Saxo Bank Classic cycling race 2039km from and to Harelbeke Friday 25 March 2022 BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND Photo by ERIC LALMAND BELGA MAG Belga via AFP Photo by ERIC LALMANDBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Pedersen on the cobbles at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic (Image credit: ERIC LALMANDBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images)

"On Friday I just was not good enough. Shit happens. I didn't have my day. Simple.

"Definitely this race suits me better than E3. Hopefully it'll be a reduced sprint. That's what I'm hoping for and I think I can be there.

"Two years ago it was a completely different race with rain so I don't think you can compare it. The wind is stronger than it looks like right now." (Sporza)

Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën)

"It's a hard race with wind and a lot of climbs. It won't be easy. I think it will be a small group that comes to the finish and then a sprint to win it.

"It's not easy to win like [Jumbo]. They have the best cards to play and it will be hard to beat them but it's not impossible.

"It's always the Classics riders and the sprinters. They have a chance because the final is quite flat but in the end it's still difficult."

Yves Lampaert (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl)

"I'm a little scared but happy to be back. Our leader today is Jakobsen, depending on this position, we'll adapt our race strategy.

"We have a lot of confidence to be present in the sprint, as the wind is not very hard today." (Race org)

Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal)

Gent Wevelgem 2022 84th Edition Ypres Wevelgem 2488 km 27032022 Victor Campenaerts BEL Lotto Soudal photo Dion KerckhoffsCVSprintCyclingAgency2022

Campenaerts at the team presentation (Image credit: Dion KerckhoffsCVSprintCyclingAgency2022)

"There's not a lot of wind today, so I'm thinking the Kemmelberg and Plugstreets will be decisive for the race.

"I'm feeling good. I hope I'll get to show myself during this race after I failed to do so on Friday." (Race org)

Oliver Naesen (AG2R Citroën)

"I wasn't feeling good at E3. I had six days off the bike before and I felt I could not recover from the big efforts.

"Today more space between the climbs so will suit me better. It's not that windy so I expect a big group to be sprinting."

Fabio Jakobsen (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl): Above all, we have to make sure that we don't fall behind. And especially not to ride behind Jumbo-Visma.

Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe): My tactics for today? Keep my food down!

Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates): I don’t think I have the condition to win today. I’m curious to see how my shape is today then I hope it will get better in the next days.

Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix): This is an important goal, but no more than those other races. Our plan? My first plan is to survive the Kemmel 3 times. That should be a little easier because of the less wind.

Sep Vanmarcke (Israel-Premier Tech): An outsider? No, I am a participant. I can't battle with those top riders yet but I hope to take another step forward today.

Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Soudal): This is my first really great Flemish classic. I've never ridden such a long race. Wait and see how my legs will react.

Gent Wevelgem 2022 84th Edition Ypres Wevelgem 2488 km 27032022 photo Dion KerckhoffsCVSprintCyclingAgency2022

Biniam Girmay speaks at the start of the race (Image credit: Dion KerckhoffsCVSprintCyclingAgency2022)

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