No Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne defence for Cavendish

The organisers of the two races that make up the opening of the Belgian Classics, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, announced the 25 teams that will participate in the events, which take place on February 27 and 28.

While Team Sky defending Omloop Het Nieuwsblad champion Ian Stannard will be in attendance, Mark Cavendish will not try for a repeat at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne as Dimension Data is not amongst the teams named.

There will be 13 WorldTour teams at the start line, three more than last year, as Orica-GreenEdge, Trek-Segafredo and Tinkoff throw their hats into the ring. World champion Peter Sagan has made the two races a priority as he ramps up for the Monuments. Trek comes backing Giacomo Nizzolo, who came a frustrated second overall in the Dubai Tour, while Orica-GreenEdge's Michael Matthews will suit up for his first outing in Kuurne.

Other World Tour teams for both races include AG2R La Mondiale, BMC Racing Team, Etixx-Quick Step, IAM Cycling, Lotto-Soudal, Orica-GreenEdge, Giant-Alpecin, Katusha, LottoNL-Jumbo, Tinkoff, and Trek-Segafredo.

Professional Continental teams for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad include Bora-Argon 18, CCC Sprandi Polkowice, Direct Energie, Roompot Oranje Peloton, Southeast Venezuela, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Fortuneo-Vital Concept, ONE Pro Cycling, Stölting Service Group, Cofidis and Nippo-Vini Fantini.

For Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Stölting and CCC step aside in favour of Team 3M and Crelan-Vastgoedservice.

The presence of Katusha at the start line remains in question, as the UCI Disciplinary Commission considers the team's two anti-doping rule violation notifications in the past 12 months. Eduard Vorganov was provisionally suspended after an out-of-competition control was positive for a newly banned drug called Meldonium, six months after Luca Paolini was ejected from the Tour de France for a cocaine positive.

Katusha's Alexander Kristoff was second to Cavendish in last year's Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

The UCI rules call for a suspension of the entire team of anywhere from 15 to 45 days.

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