Quick-Step Floors will line up at Strade Bianche on Saturday with 2015 race winner Zdenek Stybar as its leader. The Czech rider is one of three former winners to start the Italian gravel race along with Moreno Moser (Astana) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), but named Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) as his main rivals.
"The rivals will be the same as last weekend," Stybar said to Sporza. "So I think Greg and Sagan. And I expect [Tiesj] Benoot and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) as outsiders."
In last year's Strade Bianche Stybar was again in the winning move together with teammate Gianluca Brambilla, but despite selfless riding by his Italian teammate, Stybar was unable to get the better of Fabian Cancellara.
"Of course I would like to repeat my victory of 2015," Stybar said. "Strade Bianche is one of the best races of the season, and not because I have already won there, but because the setting is so beautiful - the white roads and the finish in Siena. It is something special."
Brambilla will revive his role of wildcard in the team, with Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels, Davide Martinelli, Maximiliano Richeze, Matteo Trentin, Petr Vakoc and Julien Vermote filling out the roster.
Quick-Step Floors directeur sportif Davide Bramati will be behind the wheel. He noted that new sections of iconic white gravel roads have been added to the parcours, but didn't think it would change the race.
"Two new dirt climbs have been added to the parcours in the first part, but other than that, once we'll go through the feed zone, the route will be quite similar to the one of last year," Bramati said.
"Strade Bianche remains that great race which riders and fans have become very fond of, a race in which we were always at the front in the past years, twice as winners, in 2014 and 2015, and with two riders on the podium at the previous edition," Bramati said. "We are going there with a strong team, comprising many good riders, and we want to get a nice result against the star-studded field of this first World Tour edition."
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