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On the start line at Brabantse Pijl

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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) gets a warm welcome

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) gets a warm welcome
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Tam Sky's team car is near the front of the convoy

Tam Sky's team car is near the front of the convoy
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Steve Cozza (Garmin-Transitions) shows his 'tache

Steve Cozza (Garmin-Transitions) shows his 'tache
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Karsten Kroon (BMC)

Karsten Kroon (BMC)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Simon Gerrans (Team Sky) talks to the press

Simon Gerrans (Team Sky) talks to the press
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Simon Gerrans (Team Sky)

Simon Gerrans (Team Sky)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Sylvain Chavanel's tattoo

Sylvain Chavanel's tattoo
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) lines up for the start

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) lines up for the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Ceramica Flaminia get ready to race

Ceramica Flaminia get ready to race
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was relaxed before the start

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) was relaxed before the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Steve Cozza (Garmin-Transitions) lines up for Brabantse Pijl

Steve Cozza (Garmin-Transitions) lines up for Brabantse Pijl
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The peloton gathers for the start of the Brabant Arrow

The peloton gathers for the start of the Brabant Arrow
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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They're off! The riders roll out for Brabantse Pijl

They're off! The riders roll out for Brabantse Pijl
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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There are cobbles at the start of Brabantse Pijl but the race will be decided in the hills

There are cobbles at the start of Brabantse Pijl but the race will be decided in the hills
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is not smiling as he rolls out

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is not smiling as he rolls out
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The peloton completes a start lap in Leuven

The peloton completes a start lap in Leuven
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Sebastien Rosseler (RadioShack) and Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)

Sebastien Rosseler (RadioShack) and Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step)
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Brabantse Pijl peloton leaves Leuven

The Brabantse Pijl peloton leaves Leuven
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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This vehicle preceeds the race

This vehicle preceeds the race
(Image credit: Shane Stokes in Einsiedeln)
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Carmiooro-NGC at the start

Carmiooro-NGC at the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Ceramica Flaminia were in Belgium for the race

Ceramica Flaminia were in Belgium for the race
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) checks his bike

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) checks his bike
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Omega Pharma-Lotto are hoping to win their first race of the season

The Omega Pharma-Lotto are hoping to win their first race of the season
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom) poses for a photograph

Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom) poses for a photograph
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Topsport Vlaanderen have red, white and black Merckx bikes

Topsport Vlaanderen have red, white and black Merckx bikes
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Topspoort Vlaanderen Merckx bikes got a lot of attention

The Topspoort Vlaanderen Merckx bikes got a lot of attention
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Dominique Rollin: Number 137 at Brabantse Pijl

Dominique Rollin: Number 137 at Brabantse Pijl
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Cervelo TestTeam was using a mix of bikes

Cervelo TestTeam was using a mix of bikes
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Kartsten Kroon (BMC) has a special black bike

Kartsten Kroon (BMC) has a special black bike
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Team Net App have some nice looking Focus bikes

Team Net App have some nice looking Focus bikes
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The crowd waiting for Philippe Gilbert was huge

The crowd waiting for Philippe Gilbert was huge
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Qin Cycling team before the start

The Qin Cycling team before the start
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Verandas Willems team is riding Granville bikes

The Verandas Willems team is riding Granville bikes
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Mullets are still popular in the peloton

Mullets are still popular in the peloton
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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This is Riccardo Van Der Velde's bike

This is Riccardo Van Der Velde's bike
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Garmin-Transitions rider Michel Kreder

Garmin-Transitions rider Michel Kreder
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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A lucky Landbouwkrediet riders gets a pre-race rub

A lucky Landbouwkrediet riders gets a pre-race rub
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The De Rosa bikes get a late tune-up

The De Rosa bikes get a late tune-up
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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An Post-Sean Kelly is riding green and white Principia bikes

An Post-Sean Kelly is riding green and white Principia bikes
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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RadioShack had a secret bike for the Brabant Arrow

RadioShack had a secret bike for the Brabant Arrow
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The crowd gathered as the Garmin-Transitions team arrived

The crowd gathered as the Garmin-Transitions team arrived
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Landbouwkrediet are riding black and white Colnago bikes

Landbouwkrediet are riding black and white Colnago bikes
(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)

Today's 50th edition of the Brabantse Pijl, the Brabant Arrow or La Flèche Brabanconne, marks the switch from the cobbles of Flanders to the lanes of the Ardennes. The cobbles are a fading memory and it is time to get ready for the smoother, but hilly races in the western region of Belgium.

The Brabantse Pijl has a new date and a new route and the team line-ups have changed dramatically since Paris-Roubaix, with most of the cobbled Classics specialists being replaced by the contenders for Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, and next week's Flèche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

The cobbles have been replaced with short climbs and there are 31 of these along the 200 kilometre route today. 23 of them come in the second half of the course, when the race covers a twisting circuit around Overijse, east of Brussels.

French-speaking Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) got the biggest cheer when he signed on in the spectacular main square in Leuven, but was clearly nervous. He is under immense pressure to land the first victory of the season for the Belgian team. Could today be the day?

There was a wide selection of teams at the start, ranging from big-budgets squads such as Rabobank and Team Sky, down to the much smaller Qin Cycling Team and Verandas Willems.

Garmin-Transitions are in the race, with Steve Cozza, Danny Pate, Cameron and Travis Meyer riding for on-form young Dutch rider Michel Kreder. Simon Gerrans leads Team Sky as he prepares for Amstel Gold Race and Karsten Kroon is the star of the BMC team.

The race rolled out of Leuven at 12:30 local time, for some reason after a rousing rendition of Edward Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory was played loudly across the square. The race is due to finish at 5:30pm CET.

There will be a full report and images of the race here on Cyclingnews.