Mar 28, 2017

Take it to the Wall

Three Days of De Panne, Stage 1:

"I was strong today, and in the group of 15, with thirty seconds in advance, I told the team that I could go to the wall. I made the difference in the wall, but the lead was not huge, a cool man behind could come back, but I was very good. I have not not yet really looked at the time trial, there are many turns, it should be technical, so good for me. There are still two stages. Durbridge is a specialist, but I am in good shape also."

Goal: Tour of Flanders.

"When you have a condition like mine for the moment, I'm sure it will help me to win, I want to do something at the Tour of Flanders and I want to win, but as I said before, it would be a mistake to be a leader, but our strength is our team, there are many who can win and that is the goal, and then, after the race, we will have to play the best card. Is that the victory comes back to the team, even though, of course, I would like to win." 

- Philippe Gilbert

Mar 27, 2017

Quick Step to Three Days of De Panne

The winners of Dwars Door Vlaanderen
via Instagram

Philippe Gilbert has re-discovered his classics form with superb second place finishes in Dwars an E3. Now he is the leader of the Quick Step team for tomorrow's Three Days of De Panne with a very good chance at winning it. Most of the favorites for the Tour of Flanders have opted out of the crash heavy Three Days of De Panne but not for the Boar of the Ardennes.

Mar 25, 2017

Gent Wevelgem: Cobbles, Bergs, Hero Worship & Wind

Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields is 249.2km with 11 steep climbs and for the first time 5.2km will include three semi-paved roads called, 'Plugstreets.' Puncturing here can spell your race is over. The Kemmelberg will be climbed twice and be the good for an attack. I think Peter Sagan will rebound from his bad luck in E3 and attack on the Kemmelberg to win!

My podium: 1- Peter Sagan, 2- Arnaud Demare, 3- Oliver Naesen

The 50mph winds proved too much causing many crashes and 160DNFs in 2015
photo: Tim De Waele

Belgian ladies love a hero.

King Kelly sprints to win in 1988.

Mar 24, 2017

Friday File: Belgian Tripel

After Oliver Naesen's third place in E3 Harlebeke, he's closer to the big classic win.

It was Flemish fun this time at E3 Harlebeke as an all Belgian 'tripel' or triple tore away in the last 37km to set up a marvelous Flandrian finish. 

Canadian, Hugo Houle rides in support for Oliver Naesen and provided his services for a fantastic podium finish. Houle confirms that AG2R-La Mondiale means to go further and build on his podium for the next monuments, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

"The objective was to place Naesen well for the Taaienberg. Then he did it all alone with the strength he had. He took the right group and managed it like a leader and a great rider! It's good for the team, because we've been looking for a podium on a classic. The team has found a great leader for years to come. Everyone is so hyper motivated and it pulls us up. Everyone wants to work to do the best for Oliver. We know that the guy ensures and that he has chances to win the race, so it is a great motivation to surpass me and make sure that we win races."

- Hugo Houle, 66th

Final standings here

Mar 23, 2017

E3 Harlebeke: Return of the big 3

The return of the big three.

Flemish week happily continues tomorrow with E3 Harlebeke now 60 years young. There are numerous cobble sectors and 15 climbs on much of the same route as the Tour of Flanders. Known as the mini Tour of Flanders it's route is 206.1km that starts and finishes in Harelbeke. Dwars door Vlaanderen was fun to watch as the Quick Stop Floors duo of Yves Lampaert helped by Philippe Gilbert pull the first Flemish win. They will return for E3 along with Tom Boonen looking for two in a row. Defending champ, Michal Kwiatkowski will not defend but Peter Sagan (2nd last year) and Ian Stannard (3rd) will want revenge.

Lampaert and Gilbert were masterful in Dwars will Quick Step Floors do it again?

My podium: 1- Peter Sagan, 2- Oliver Naesen 3- Tiesj Benoot

darkhorses: Edvald Boasson Hagen, Sep Vanmarcke
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