Classics specialist Markus Eichler and sprinter Robert Förster will lead a Team Milram squad with six youngsters this coming weekend in the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen on March 6 to 8. The young riders, with an average age of 24.1 years, are Germans Thomas Fothen, Artur Gajek, Dominik Roels and Paul Voss, Italian Luca Barla and Dutch sprinter Wim Stroetinga.
"Because of its profile, the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen is one of the most challenging Spring races," said Milram's Directeur Sportif Ralf Grabsch. "Especially the cobblestone passages, which require the highest concentration and all of a rider's know-how. I am eager to see how our young riders do in Belgium. Our goal is to influence the stages in order to have good results in the end."
The stages of the Belgian race will not be easy for the riders of the Dortmund-based team. They face a total of 541 hilly kilometers with some difficult cobblestone sections. In last year's edition, Milram's Martin Velits put in a strong performance. The Slovakian finished eighth overall after 543 kilometers.
The Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen has been carried out in its current format since 2003. It was previously run as the Omloop der Vlaamse Ardennen-Ichtegem (1945-1998) and Guldensporentweedaagse (1999-2002) In 2005, the race had to be cancelled due to a heavy snowfall. Robert Bartko won the race in 2004, becoming the only German to do so in the last five years.
Team Milram for Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen: Luca Barla, Markus Eichler, Robert Förster, Thomas Fothen, Artur Gajek, Dominik Roels, Wim Stroetinga and Paul Voss under Directeur Sportif Ralf Grabsch
Team Astana for Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen: Riders: Roman Kireyev, Berik Kupeshov, Bolat Raimbekov, Gregory Rast, Sergey Renev and Andrey Zeits Director: Alexandr Shefer