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On the start line at Dwars door Vlaanderen - Gallery

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An Eddy Merckx fan tries to tail onto the peloton

An Eddy Merckx fan tries to tail onto the peloton (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Niccolo Bonifazio chills out ahead of the start

Niccolo Bonifazio chills out ahead of the start (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Lots of relaxed figures on the start line

Lots of relaxed figures on the start line (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The start line of the 2017 Dwars door Vlaanderen

The start line of the 2017 Dwars door Vlaanderen (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Roeselare's Grote Markt bathed in sunshine

Roeselare's Grote Markt bathed in sunshine (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Sep Vanmarcke hops a barrier - forgot to go to the toilet on the bus?

Sep Vanmarcke hops a barrier - forgot to go to the toilet on the bus? (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Sep Vanmarcke speaks to Belgian TV channel Sporza

Sep Vanmarcke speaks to Belgian TV channel Sporza (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Niki Terpstra was in demand with the selfie hunters

Niki Terpstra was in demand with the selfie hunters (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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A local kid is charged with looking after Lotto Soudal's bikes while they sign on

A local kid is charged with looking after Lotto Soudal's bikes while they sign on (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Serious face for young Belgian star Tiesj Benoot

Serious face for young Belgian star Tiesj Benoot (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Vanmarcke's stem notes

Vanmarcke's stem notes (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The ever-smiley Sep Vanmarcke at sign-on

The ever-smiley Sep Vanmarcke at sign-on (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Roeselare's Grote Markt bathed in sunshine

Roeselare's Grote Markt bathed in sunshine (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The wait before the gun

The wait before the gun (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The riders line up in Roeselare's Grote Markt

The riders line up in Roeselare's Grote Markt (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The riders roll out of Roeselare

The riders roll out of Roeselare (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The riders roll out of Roeselare

The riders roll out of Roeselare (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The race gets underway

The race gets underway (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Two-time winner Niki Terpstra is using disc brakes

Two-time winner Niki Terpstra is using disc brakes (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Niki Terpstra paying his respects to the victims of last year's terror attack

Niki Terpstra paying his respects to the victims of last year's terror attack (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The riders take off their helmets in a tribute to the victims of last year's terror attack in Brussels

The riders take off their helmets in a tribute to the victims of last year's terror attack in Brussels (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The helicopter soaring above a sunny Flanders, ready to film the action

The helicopter soaring above a sunny Flanders, ready to film the action (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Race director Guy Delesie gets ready to give the start

Race director Guy Delesie gets ready to give the start (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Philippe Gilbert and reigning champion Jens Debuscherre were put at the head of affairs on the start line

Philippe Gilbert and reigning champion Jens Debuscherre were put at the head of affairs on the start line (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The riders line up for the roll out

The riders line up for the roll out (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Philippe Gilbert and reigning champion Jens Debuscherre were put at the head of affairs on the start line

Philippe Gilbert and reigning champion Jens Debuscherre were put at the head of affairs on the start line (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Belgian squad Quick-Step Floors drew the loudest cheers on the podium

Belgian squad Quick-Step Floors drew the loudest cheers on the podium (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Belgian squad Quick-Step Floors drew the loudest cheers on the podium

Belgian squad Quick-Step Floors drew the loudest cheers on the podium (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Fans gather in Roeselare's Grote Markt

Fans gather in Roeselare's Grote Markt (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Paris-Roubaix champion Mat Hayman peeking out of the Orica-Scott bus

Paris-Roubaix champion Mat Hayman peeking out of the Orica-Scott bus (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Arnaud Demare fights his way through the crowd to get to sign-on

Arnaud Demare fights his way through the crowd to get to sign-on (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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One of FDJ's glossy spare Lapierre's

One of FDJ's glossy spare Lapierre's (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Longstanding Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere is a constant presence at the classics

Longstanding Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere is a constant presence at the classics (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Astana's Argon 18 bikes

Astana's Argon 18 bikes (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Katusha's Rick Zabel has detailed notes on his stem

Katusha's Rick Zabel has detailed notes on his stem (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Last-minute adjustments are made to Oliver Naesen's tire pressure

Last-minute adjustments are made to Oliver Naesen's tire pressure (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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AG2R-La Mondiale's Factor O2 bikes

AG2R-La Mondiale's Factor O2 bikes (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The fans line up outside the cafes to get a glimpse of the riders

The fans line up outside the cafes to get a glimpse of the riders (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Autographs for the Belgian heroes

Autographs for the Belgian heroes (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Cofidis arrive in Roeselare

Cofidis arrive in Roeselare (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Sylvain Chavanel can still go strong on the cobbles

Sylvain Chavanel can still go strong on the cobbles (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Even the defending champion needs reminders of the key cobbles and bergs

Even the defending champion needs reminders of the key cobbles and bergs (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Beers before midday is all good on race day

Beers before midday is all good on race day (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Belgian champion Gilbert gets off the Quick-Step bus

Belgian champion Gilbert gets off the Quick-Step bus (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Fernando Gaviria has been tipped for cobbled classics success by Tom Boonen

Fernando Gaviria has been tipped for cobbled classics success by Tom Boonen (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Niki Terpstra speaks to the media ahead of the race

Niki Terpstra speaks to the media ahead of the race (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Fans lining up to catch a glimpse of the riders as they head for sign-on

Fans lining up to catch a glimpse of the riders as they head for sign-on (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Zdenek Stybar enjoying a few pre-race moments with his child

Zdenek Stybar enjoying a few pre-race moments with his child (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Zdenek Stybar popped over to see his child

Zdenek Stybar popped over to see his child (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Michael Matthews was protected against the chilly breeze

Michael Matthews was protected against the chilly breeze (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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(Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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The Quick-Step bus always draws the largest crowd in Belgium

The Quick-Step bus always draws the largest crowd in Belgium (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)
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Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen has some nice personalisations on his Bianchi

Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen has some nice personalisations on his Bianchi (Image credit: Patrick Fletcher)

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. 

Cyclingnews' live coverage of the race is already up and running, and you can join the action right here.