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Tim Declercq returns to racing at Dwars door Vlaanderen

AL ULA, SAUDI ARABIA - FEBRUARY 05: Tim Declercq of Belgium and Team Quick-Step - Alpha Vinyl prior to the 2nd Saudi Tour 2022, Stage 5 a 138,5km stage from AIUIa Old Town to AIUIa Old Town / #SaudiTour / on February 05, 2022 in AIUIa Old Town, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
Tim Declercq returns to racing (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Tim Declercq will return to the QuickStep-AlphaVinyl line-up at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday for his first race since he was diagnosed with pericarditis in February.

The Belgian domestique abandoned the Volta ao Algarve after suffering chest pains and breathing difficulties on the opening stage, and he spent two weeks off the bike when he was subsequently diagnosed with an inflammation of the lining of the heart.

Declercq initially suggested that he was unlikely to feature in the cobbled Classics at all in 2022, although he held out faint hopes that he might be able to participate in Paris-Roubaix, which takes place on April 17, a week later than normal this year.

He now makes an earlier than planned return to competition at Dwars door Vlaanderen, though it remains to be seen if he will feature in QuickStep-AlphaVinyl’s final selection for the Tour of Flanders on Sunday. 

"We are happy to have Tim back after his illness, he trained hard and we can’t wait to see him in the race again," directeur sportif Tom Steels said in a statement.

In the absence of Kasper Asgreen, withheld from action here with an eye to Sunday's Tour of Flanders, QuickStep-AlphaVinyl will be led at Dwars door Vlaanderen by Yves Lampaert, who won the race in 2017 and 2018.

Lampaert’s Classics preparations were blighted by the illness that forced him to abandon Paris-Nice and he only returned to competition at Gent-Wevelgem, where QuickStep endured another trying afternoon on the cobbles. 

Asgreen, who placed 32nd, was their best finisher in Wevelgem, as he had been at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic. After those subdued displays, Patrick Lefevere’s squad will be expected to respond on home turf.

Fabio Jakobsen, who won Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne in February, is also included in the QuickStep line-up here, alongside Stijn Steels, Jannik Steimle, Zdenek Stybar and Bert Van Lerberghe.

"Yves is on an upward trajectory, he showed that last Sunday, so overall we are confident we can do a good race," said Tom Steels.

The 184km race from Roeselare to Waregem follows an altered route in 2022, with Zeelstraat, Stooktestraat, and Ladeuze featuring, as well as a new finale over the Holstraat. 

While Ronde favourite Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) is an absentee, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) make their first appearances on the cobbles this Spring.

"The course has completely changed, and it will be a hectic one, with a lot of climbing and narrow roads," Steels said. 

"We could still have a big group going to the finish line, but we are also sure that attacks will happen."

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Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.