The opening weekend of racing in Belgium continues today with the Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne race. Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was raced under pouring rain but it was dry and windy as the riders rolled out from the start for the 193km race around Western Flanders.
The wind could play a key part in the race, sparking echelons and splits in the peloton and helping or hindering any breakaways. The race also climbs the Oude Kwaremont, Kruisberg, Kanarieberg and the Tiegemberg, making it a real semi-classic and a taste of what is to come in April.
Last year Bobbie Traksel was a surprise but well deserved winner after being part of a three-rider attack that stayed away for most of the day. The move also included Rick Flens (Rabobank) and Ian Stannard (Team Sky), who finished second and third.
There were tired faces at the start line in Kuurne as riders got ready for their second taste of racing in Flanders but there were also some fresh faces as some teams swapped riders in their rosters. Garmin-Cervelo has made several strategic changes, with sprinter Tyler Farrar replacing world champion as team leader. Will that give the American an advantage? We’ll find out later today.
Cyclingnews has live coverage of the race here and there will be a full race report, photo galleries and rider interviews from the finish.