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HTC-Columbia counts on Eisel for Tour of Flanders

Bernhard Eisel (HTC - Columbia) shows off his Gent - Wevelgem winner's trophy.

Bernhard Eisel (HTC - Columbia) shows off his Gent - Wevelgem winner's trophy. (Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)

The HTC-Columbia squad will be looking to Gent-Wevelgem winner Bernhard Eisel as its leader for the Tour of Flanders. The Austrian has "the most realistic chance of winning" on Sunday, according to director Tristan Hoffman.

"He's really focussed, he's shown he's got great form, and we will try and bring him to the crucial final kilometres in the best position possible.

"For him, winning Gent-Wevelgem was a big step up. He's always been very generous when it comes to working for the team, but now he can smell those wins for himself, too. He's growing into a new role, but we're sure he's got the confidence to handle himself well. Flanders is a very tough race, but there's no doubt HTC-Columbia has a very motivated squad for this event."

Sprinter Mark Cavendish will take part in the Belgian Classic for the first time in his career, but will not be in his usual role as the team's protected rider.

"He'll have a free role within the team's bigger game plan. He'll be working for Bernie and be learning about Flanders as well," said Hoffman.

HTC-Columbia for Tour of Flanders: Mark Cavendish (GBr), Bernhard Eisel (Aut), Matt Goss (Aus), Vicente Reynes (Spa), Hayden Roulston (NZ), Marcel Sieberg (Ger), Martin Velits (Svk).

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