The sun was shining and spring was in the air as teams, riders, and plenty of fans gathered in Roeselare for the start of Dwars door Vlaanderen, which signals the start proper of the cobbled Classics campaign.
From here the races in northern Belgium come thick and fast in the run-up to the Tour of Flanders next Sunday, and the crowds were celebrating the start of one of the most eagerly anticipated fortnights of the year, with the beer taps flowing well before midday.
The leading lights of Belgian cycling, Tom Boonen and Greg Van Avermaet, are saving themselves for E3-Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, but the likes of Sep Vanmarcke, defending champion Jens Debuscherre, Tiesj Benoot and Iljo Keisse still attracted vociferous cheers.
There was a relaxed atmosphere in Roeselare's Grote Markt, thanks to the combination of the clement conditions - though a chilly breeze was still blowing - and the fact that the more prestigious races are yet to come. There was a sombre moment, too, as riders removed their helmets to observe a minute's silence in respect of the victims of last year's terror attacks that rocked the country on the eve of the race.
Cyclingnews did the rounds as the team buses arrived, taking photos as bikes were prepared and as riders stepped out to sign on and then made their way over to the start line via the podium. You can view all the photos in the gallery above.
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