Australian WorldTour team Mitchelton-Scott has named its team for the 'opening weekend' combo of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Italian Matteo Trentin will take on a leadership role in his first classics campaign with the team with Sunday's race the major target.
Australian Luke Durbridge has recovered from the broken collarbone he sustained in January at the national championships and will have a free role for the two races. Former Paris-Roubaix winner Mat Hayman and Australian national champion Alex Edmondson provide further depth for the team aims.
"I am really looking forward to the weekend, the start of the classics is always exciting, and it will be good to get back into that style of racing. To be honest I don't know how to compare my form to the rest of the classics guys, with my recovery I raced twice in Spain and the terrain is different and also there were not many other classics specialists at those races," said Trentin, who's season debut was delayed due to a broken rib.
"We come in on the back of a really good team camp in Almeria and since the rib injury back in January I've been feeling better and improving all the time. It is still early in the season, but I feel good and I'm quite pleased with my shape after Murcia and Almeria."
While Trentin is aiming to hit the ground running, the 28-year-old also sees the two races as key to setting up a strong classics campaign.
"It will be a different level of competition at the weekend and Luke is also returning from injury, but if we have good legs in these races then we can aim to be up there at the key moments. It's also going to be important and good for us to test ourselves against the other classics riders and see how we are going," he said
Sports director for the 'opening weekend', Laurenzo Lapage added he won't be placing too much pressure on his riders for a result.
"Saturday could be good for Alex, but it will be a very tough race. With the finish now following the old Tour of Flanders route it gives the race another element and will be challenging for the whole field," he said of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
"With Luke and Matteo we don't want to risk anything too soon, it's a long season ahead and it would be great if we can get up there with Matteo on Sunday at Kuurne and have a presence in the final selection, but there won't be any pressure."
The seven-rider team is completed by Chris Juul Jensen and Michael Hepburn while first-year neo-pro Lucas Hamilton makes his debut in the classics.
Mitchelton-Scott for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne: Luke Durbridge, Alexander Edmondson, Lucas Hamilton, Mathew Hayman, Michael Hepburn, Chris Juul Jensen and Matteo Trentin.
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