Having started with an all-Italian line up at the first monument of the season at Milan-San Remo, there is an international flair to Lampre-Merida's Tour of Flanders squad with Chun Kai Feng and Gang Xu to become the first Taiwanese and Chinese starters in the history of the Belgian monument. The Italian WorldTour team are also likely to make history with its riders likely to be on disc equipped Merida's.
"The riders like them. Four riders are using them at home in training and their feedback has been very positive," team manager Brent Copeland told Cyclingnews last month of the response from his riders to using disc brakes. "We're happy to work with Merida to ensure everything works perfectly. We think disc brakes are the future and want to use them in the Classics where they can make a real difference."
Feng and Xu both rode E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and the Three Days of De Panne in preparation for Flanders although both riders failed to finish any of the races. Feng, 27, rode Paris - Roubaix last year with Lampre-Merida while Xu is experiencing his longest classics campaign so far in his career. Both riders are likely to ride in support of the team which includes three Italians and two Slovenians.
Lampre won the race in 2007 with Alessandro Ballan while Pippo Pozzato was the team's best finisher during his three years in 'blue-fuchsia-green'. With no standout classics rider in 2016, Lampre-Merida will start the race with the ambition of entering a rider into the breakaway and keeping Marko Kump and Davide Cimolai fresh as possible for the final 50km of the race.
Cimolai, who won a stage at the Volta a Catalunya last month, was 44th at the 2015 edition of the race having first ridden the race in 2012. Cimolai will be joined by compatriots Roberto Ferrari and Sacha Modolo with Slovenian national champion Luka Pibernik rounding out the squad.
Lampre-Merida for the Tour of Flanders: Davide Cimolai, Chun Kai Feng, Roberto Ferrari, Marko Kump, Sacha Modolo, Luka Pibernik, Xu Gang and Federico Zurlo.
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