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On the startline of Dwars Door Vlaanderen

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Gang Xu (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)

Gang Xu (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Omega Pharma QuickStep bikes at Dwars door Vlaanderen

Omega Pharma QuickStep bikes at Dwars door Vlaanderen
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Stijn Devolder leads RadioShack in the absence of Fabian Cancellara

Stijn Devolder leads RadioShack in the absence of Fabian Cancellara
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Takashi Miyazawa (Saxo Bank) keeps warm

Takashi Miyazawa (Saxo Bank) keeps warm
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Markel Irizar Aranburu (RadioShack)

Markel Irizar Aranburu (RadioShack)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Mitchell Docker and Aidis Kruopis (Orica GreenEdge)

Mitchell Docker and Aidis Kruopis (Orica GreenEdge)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Martijn Maaskant started despite a recent knee injury

Martijn Maaskant started despite a recent knee injury
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Koen de Kort was third in Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2012

Koen de Kort was third in Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2012
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Chris Sutton (Team Sky) tries to keep warm on the start line

Chris Sutton (Team Sky) tries to keep warm on the start line
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Nico Eeckhout (An Post ChainReaction)

Nico Eeckhout (An Post ChainReaction)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Russell Downing (Team NetApp - Endura)

Russell Downing (Team NetApp - Endura)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Sébastien Rosseler (Garmin-Sharp)

Sébastien Rosseler (Garmin-Sharp)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Luke Rowe (Team Sky)

Luke Rowe (Team Sky)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Argos Shimano's Felt road bikes

Argos Shimano's Felt road bikes
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Felt provide Argos Shimano with their frames once again

Felt provide Argos Shimano with their frames once again
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Mathew Hayman's spare Pinarello

Mathew Hayman's spare Pinarello
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Garmin-Sharp's spare Cervelo race bikes before the start

Garmin-Sharp's spare Cervelo race bikes before the start
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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The Cofidis team Look bikes

The Cofidis team Look bikes
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis)

Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Ian Stannard (Team Sky) is in great form after his ride in Milan-San Remo

Ian Stannard (Team Sky) is in great form after his ride in Milan-San Remo
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)

Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Hayden Roulston (RadioShack-Trek)

Hayden Roulston (RadioShack-Trek)
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Stijn Devolder draws a big following with the Belgian fans

Stijn Devolder draws a big following with the Belgian fans
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)

If the peloton thought that the bad weather from Milan-San Remo was behind them, they were in for a shock on the start line of Dwars Door Vlaanderen in Roeselare on Wednesday morning. Snap cold temperatures and sleet greeted the peloton as they gathered on the start line for race that will kick-start the next three weeks of cobbled classics in Belgium.

Dwars door Vlaanderen may lack the WorldTour status of its counterparts E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders but nonetheless it provides a key indicator of form. Although Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara and Peter Sagan have chosen the skip this year’s race, the field comprises of a number of Classics specialists.

Juan Antonio Flecha may be approaching the twilight of his career but the Spaniard was in confident mood ahead of the race, telling Cyclingnews that his form continued to improve in recent weeks. His former Sky teammates Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard were also in Roeselare with the pair looking to find their feet before Gent-Wevelgem and Flanders.

And while home favourites, Boonen, Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet abstained from racing (BMC did not enter the race) the partisan crowds still had the Stijn Devolder, Gert Steegmans, and the ever popular Nico Eeckhout to cheer.