Quick-Step will back Kittel, Gilbert in Three Days of De Panne

Quick-Step Floors will back Marcel Kittel for the sprints, while Philippe Gilbert and Dries Devenyns will carry the general classification hopes into Three Days of De Panne when the race starts on Tuesday.

The opening day of the four-stage, three-day race will be a test for the Classics riders and a chance for the GC men to distance their rivals. The 205.5km route from De Panne to Zottegem takes the peloton over 11 classified climbs, including Leberg, Berendries, Ten Bosse and Muur van Geraardsbergen, which many of the riders will see Sunday at the Tour of Flanders.

The following two stages look suited to the sprinters, while the final stage is a 14.2km individual time trial that will provide an opportunity for the specialists in the race against the clock to claw back some time.

Gilbert, who is clearly on form after finishing second in both Dwars Door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke, will look to establish his supremacy among the overall contenders on the opening day.

The team will focus on wins with Kittel in stage 2 and 3, where he'll benefit from the lead-out skills of Jack Bauer, Tim Declercq, Davide Martinelli, Maximiliano Richeze and Fabio Sabatini.

The big German has four wins so far this season at the Tour of Qatar and Abu Dhabi Tour, but he hasn't raced since abandoning Paris-Nice on the final day, and he'll be motivated to add to his 2017 tally so far.

Quick-Step Floors for Three Days of De Panne: Jack Bauer, Tim Declercq, Dries Devenyns, Philippe Gilbert, Marcel Kittel, Davide Martinelli, Maximiliano Richeze, Fabio Sabatini

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