News shorts: Vorobyev wins Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen prologue

Vorobyev wins Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen prologue in Middelkerke

Katusha’s Anton  won the opening stage and took the early lead of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen in Middelkerke on Friday evening. The Russian finished the 7km prologue in 7:57, beating New Zealand’s Jesse Sergent (Trek Factory Racing) by four seconds and Czech Repubic’s Jan Barta (Bora-Argon18) by five seconds.

“Of course, I am very happy with this victory!” Vorobyev said. “I was very motivated, because I was able to achieve good form and I wanted very much to get a result. I knew this route because I’ve ridden it previously.

“In the morning I had a chance to see the route again and to understand how to ride it, how to divide the power on the distance. In the first part it was a strong head wind, so it was important to pass it with a good speed. Normally, I like long time trials, but I worked hard to improve my abilities in short distances, because I know I have to ride both long and short TT’s.

“Now, I am the leader in GC and I am motivated for fighting in this race until the end. We have a very strong team here in Belgium and all of the guys are really motivated to support me and to help me in next two days. We will see what will happens, but I am sure for 100 per cent we will do our best.”

Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen will continue on Saturday with the 174.1km first stage from Brugge to Harelbeke and conclude on Sunday with a 184.5km stage from Nieuwpoort to Ichtegem.

Bora-Argon18 aim to defend Barta’s third place at Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen

Bora-Argon18’s Jan Barta kicked off the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen with a third place in the prologue on Friday. He is sitting in third place overall, five seconds behind prologue winner Anton Vorobyev from Katusha, and his team is aiming to defend that position into the finale on Sunday.

“Jan rode an excellent time trial once again,” said director Steffen Radochla. “His result is a great starting position for the team regarding the upcoming two days. The minimum is to defend the third place in the GC. The wind might affect the next stages, we have to race some cobblestone sectors and tomorrow we climb the Kwaremont. Given the tight time differences there are still opportunities left to influence the race. Our guys showed their good form in the last days, so everything is possible.”

Kwiatkowski confident ahead of first-ever Paris-Nice

Etixx-QuickStep’s Michal Kwiatkowski feels confident that he will have a good performance at the upcoming Paris-Nice, a race he has never done before. The race is set to start on Sunday with a prologue in Maurepas.

“After Algarve I trained very well,” Kwiatkowski said. “I worked on intensive training, harder than before. After Argentina and Algarve, plus this block of training, I feel good and ready to face the first UCI WorldTour race of the year.”

“To be honest I am pretty excited because I can't wait to enter into this hard, but exciting period, which starts with this beautiful race and ends with the Ardennes Classics. As a rider it is something you want to be part of, so I am happy to be here.

“This is also important because I never raced Paris-Nice before, so it is another step as a young rider to discover a part of the pro cycling world. I checked the parcours… We will see. I'll take it day-by-day. But the goal is to go there and try to do something well at this race.”

Paris-Nice starts with a 6.7km prologue in Maurepas on Sunday. The more decisive days include stage 4 with a climb to Croix de Chaubouret and stage 7’s mountain time trial that ends on the Col d'Eze on Sunday, March 15.

Kwiatkowski will be joined by his teammates Julian Alaphilippe, Tom Boonen, Maxime Bouet, Michal Golas, Nikolas Maes, Tony Martin and Stijn Vandenbergh.

Riblon has high hopes for Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico

Christophe Riblon will lead the AG2R La Mondiale team at both the Strade Bianche (March 7) and Tirreno-Adriatico (March 11-17). The Frenchman said that after a challenging Tour Down Under, he is ready to start the season in Europe.

“After the Santos Down Under Tour I had a hard time,” said Riblon, who was ninth overall at Tirreno-Adriatico in 2012. “I was not as fit as I expected to be. Now I am satisfied. I hope everything will be ok now. The next two races in Italia are a good opportunity for AG2R La Mondiale Pro Cycling Team to ride ambitiously.

The AG2R La Mondiale roster for Strade Bianche will also include Carlos Betancur, Hubert Dupont, Damien Gaudin, Lloyd Mondory, Pierre Latour, Matteo Montaguti and Rinaldo Nocentini.

Domenico Pozzovivo and Alexis Vuillermoz will replace Dupont and Latour for Tirreno-Adriatico.

“We have a strong and very consistent team with Domenico Pozzovivo, Carlos Betancur or Alexis Vuillermoz. Matteo Montaguti is also in good shape after his podium in GP Lugano. I'm very confident, we are in a good phase,” Riblon said.

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