Paolini heads north

Luca Paolini, who finished third in Milan-San Remo, is heading to Belgium for a tough schedule of northern classics. The Liquigas rider will race all the classics, save for Paris-Roubaix. He is particularly keen on the Ronde van Vlaanderen, which is his favourite race.

"After my performance in Milan-San Remo, I expect to do well in the next races too," said Paolini. "I especially like the Ronde van Vlaanderen, but I don't undervalue the other events. Besides the race of the bergs, I'm thinking about the Driedaagse De Panne and Amstel Gold Race."

Liquigas-Bianchi team manager Roberto Amadio admits that it won't be easy. "the Ronde van Vlaanderen is like a world championship for the Belgian riders, and it's terribly difficult to shine in this kind of race."

Liquigas's Magnus Backstedt is also hoping to regain a semblance of form after crashing in the Challenge Illes Balears earlier this year and injuring his left knee. Experienced campaigner Stefano Zanini is another one to watch for, as he knows the cobbled classics very well.

Liquigas-Bianchi for the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen (G.P. Harelbeke) and Brabantse Pijl (Flèche Brabançonne) this weekend: Michael Albasini, Magnus Backstedt, Daniele Colli, Mauro Da Dalto, Marco Milesi, Luca Paolini, Marco Righetto and Stefano Zanini. Team director: Dario Mariuzzo.

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