Canyon-SRAM head to the Tour of Flanders with a strong line-up led by Trofeo Alfredo Binda winner Katarzyna Niewiadoma. The event marks the sixth round of the Women's WorldTour and Niewiadoma is currently second overall, with a chance to move into the series lead in Oudenaarde.
Driedaagse De Panne winner Jolien D'hoore leads the overall ranking with 380 points while Niewiadoma and Gent-Wevelgem winner Marta Bastianelli (Ale Cipollini), both have 350 points.
Niewiadoma won the third round of the series in Italy, where she briefly took the series lead, and she was second, behind Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) at the opener Strade Bianche. Although she told Cyclingnews that it was her goal to be in top form for the Ardennes Classics - Amstel Gold Race (April 15), La Flèche Wallonne (April 18) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 22) - she is a favourite to win Flanders.
Niewiadoma is just one potential winner on the six-rider team that also includes the overall winner at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana Hannah Barnes, along with Elena Cecchini, Lisa Klein, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Trixi Worrack.
In a team press release, manager Ronny Lauke said the decision of the final six riders to start on Sunday hadn't been an easy one, but that the final selection will give the team cards to play.
"It's the first time for a long time that we've had a real problem to figure out which six riders are the best for the race. We've been forced to make some uncomfortable decisions because we now have such a strong group of riders to choose from.
"With having now the one-day WorldTour victory (Trofeo Alfredo Binda) in our pocket it opens up even more opportunities. The riders are now in a position where they don't need to be stressed about getting that victory and at the same time they know how to make it happen. They are so hungry for these big races, to perform and leave a footprint at the highest level.
"The way they raced in Trofeo Binda has shown that we have tactical variations in our team. We don't need to rely on one or two riders. As to how the race will play out, then I think you can only make a prediction closer to the day once you know the wind direction and if it's dry or wet. I can say though that regardless of the weather we have options for any situation in the race. We go into Flanders with a well-balanced group that can go for victory solo or from any size bunch."
This year's Tour of Flanders course in 151km, starts and finishes in Oudenaarde and includes five cobblestone sectors and 11 climbs. It is the 15th edition of the race where some of the champions include Coryn Rivera, Ellen Van Dijk, Marianna Vos and the team's former sprinter Ina Teutenberg (HighRoad).
"The harder the race the more sweet the victory, and Flanders has all of this and more," said former multi-discipline world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot.
"It's an iconic name in the sport. The conditions riders face, the climbs, the cobbles. You need to have so much quality as a rider to win it. I think that every rider wants to prove that they are something special. That they have what it takes to win Flanders."
Canyon-SRAM roster for Tour of Flanders: Hannah Barnes, Elena Cecchini, Lisa Klein, Kasia Niewiadoma, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Trixi Worrack.
Listen to Niewiadoma speak about her victory at Trofeo Alfredo Binda in the Voxwomen video below.
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