The Flanders Fest continues with the flatter of this weekend’s one-day classics, Gent-Wevelgem. After his victory at Milan-San Remo last Sunday, can John Degenkolb repeat his 2014 victory and make it a Degs Double?
- Rolling out of Deinze in the morning, the race heads west, ducking over the border into Cassel France before looping back around to Ypres and on to Wevelgem, covering 239km in the process.
- It’s a race of two halves, if ever there was one. Expect things to get exciting from the mid-way point on a parcours which should encourage some interesting tactical battles.
- This is generally seen as more of a sprinters’ race, but from the first ascent of the Casselberg at 110km the race profile starts to look like Oleg’s ECG signature after Milan-San Remo. Multiple punchy, leg-smashing, cobbled climbs will sort the men from the boys, and should encourage one or two puncheurs to try their luck on the attack. Expect to see some games of poker as teams try to force each other to do the chase work.
Riders to watch
John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin): The Mighty Degs is a man in form at the moment, as his sprint in La Primavera last Sunday attests. This is a race which should suit him well – I’m not exactly sticking my neck out here as he won it last year, taking victory ahead of Arnaud Demare and Peter Sagan.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha): Another rider who had a good ride to San Remo last weekend, Kristoff is just the kind of rider to revel in this kind of race. He usually performs extremely well in rough conditions and if the weather forecasters are right, then expect Kristoff to be rubbing his hands.
Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka): Another solid sprinter who has previous when it comes to winning races in bad weather, Ciolek will be out to make up for last weekend. Anybody who saw his reaction when his Milan-San Remo effectively ended with a crash, will have an idea of how motivated he will be on Sunday. It’s likely that a lot of the big sprint teams will be tied up chasing down breaks, and that may open gaps for other powerful riders to exploit. Ciolek certainly has the ability to capitalise on that.
Link: Official race website