Team BikeExchange men kick-off their Belgium Classic’s campaign this weekend, as they line-up for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne with a mixed squad of young talent and experienced riders.
Luke Durbridge will lead the seven-rider team in both races while 22-year-old Robert Stannard and new 2021 signing Amund Grøndahl-Jansen give additional options and cards to play.
Alongside them will be riders experienced in tackling the ‘Cobbled Classics’ in Australians Alex Edmondson and Callum Scotson, plus New Zealander Dion Smith. Danish powerhouse Chris Juul-Jensen brings a wealth of knowledge to the team and will be an important captain on the road.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the first race of the weekend, features 13 climbs including the famous Kapelmuur and the Bosberg just under 15km from the finish line. The 73rd edition of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is staged with a route that boasts 12 tough climbs, including the notorious Kanarieberg, Oude Kwaremont and Kluisberg, the last of which comes 50km from the finish line and often reduces the number of competitors aspiring for victory.
Team BikeExchange at the Opening Weekend:
Luke Durbridge (AUS)
Alex Edmondson (AUS)
Amund Grøndahl-Jansen (NOR)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN)
Callum Scotson (AUS)
Dion Smith (NZL)
Robert Stannard (AUS)
“Opening weekend, it’s for me like the big start of the season where you can see what your form is after the winter period and also you can test the bike and get ready with the team. I really like these races, it’s the first step to being ready for the big classics to come.
“My first goal is to have a good race and I’m hoping to be in the last selection after the crucial climbs and if I can take an opportunity, who knows?
“From Australia it was a good start of the season, I had good signs, that’s also why I spent one month more than usual in the Australian summer having some time to put more base compared to previous years.
“Omloop or Kuurne, I’m not going to say I like one better than the other, they both present great opportunities and I hope to take them. Omloop probably better suits for me for a result and Kuurne I think I can come down with the best group. They are both hard races and a lot of it depends on the conditions of the weather and crosswind in the final.”
Laurenzo Lapage – Sport Director:
“On paper Omloop is harder and more selective while Kuurne is more suitable for fast riders, but the truth is that in Belgium, all races are unpredictable and can give great surprises.
“For sure, the final of the race on Saturday, is the same as the old Tour of Flanders, will help make a great selection, while for Sunday a small group of 25-30 riders is more likely to arrive, also because the roads are very narrow and nervous.
“We have a good and competitive team, and our goal is to make a podium with our leader Luke Durbridge and, if there is a chance, Robert Stannard and Amund Grøndahl-Jansen will also be able to play their cards. Furthermore, in these first races, it is crucial to see how the boys work in the race to perfect the team’s mechanisms.”
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Race Details:
Saturday, 27th Feb, Gand-Ninove, 200km
Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne Race Détails:
Sunday, 28th Feb, Kuurne-Kuurne, 196.3km
Photo Courtesy of Con Chronis.