The Classics season begins! it’s first race in the lead up to the likes of Paris Roubaix and Liege Bastogne Liege. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad contains a few of the same cobbled climbs, but is not the most gruelling of the classics by far.
The short, steep, cobbled climbs mean the overall winner will have to have strength and endurance. 2016 was concluded with a sprint between Greg Van Avermaet, Tiesij Benoot, Luke Rowe and World champion Peter Sagan. With Van Avermaet taking the win. This years overall winner of this race is usually a puncheor as the climbers don’t have the strength to survive being bounced around by the cobbles and the pure sprinters struggle to hurl their bodies up the short steep inclines.
The 2017 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad startlist is made up of Team Katusha – Alpecin, Quick-Step Floors, Bora – Hansgrohe, BMC Racing Team, Trek – Segafredo, ORICA-Scott, Team Sky, Direct Energie, Team LottoNL-Jumbo, Lotto Soudal, FDJ, Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team, Verandas Willems-Crelan, AG2R La Mondiale, Astana Pro Team, Team Sunweb, Cofidis, Solutions Credits, Fortuneo – Vital Concept, Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team, Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise, WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect, Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij, Israel Cycling Academy, Aqua Blue
Peter Sagan 🇸🇰 (Bora – Hansgrohe)
The World Champion is the man to beat. The voodoo surrounding Sagan’s near misses seemingly has disappeared. Sagan is a cycling freak! I predict he will kick start his Classic’s campaign with a victory at the 2017 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. This year is his first campaign with a team build around/by him. Although he probably could free-wheel his way to victory without any support of a team.
ONES TO WATCH
Greg Van Avermaet 🇧🇪 (BMC Racing Team)
I predict a close second for last years winner. GVA’s form in the last few years has been very impressive. A true classic specialist. After the loss of Cancellara to the sport and the upcoming departure of Tom Boonen. Sagan and Van Avermaet’s rivalry could become a common theme for the foreseeable future in the classics.
Tom Boonen 🇧🇪 (Quick-Step Floors)
Tom will be in fine form leading up to his retirement race at Paris-Roubaix. His main aim is Roubaix so I think we will see his early season form in preparation. Although probably still not strong enough to topple Sagan or GVA.
Alexandre Kristoff 🇳🇴 (Team Katusha – Alpecin)
Bit of a curve ball, being a sprinter but the Norwegian has showed in the past he can compete on the cobbles. If a telling late attack doesn’t materialize I aspect Kristoff to be up their with the rest in a group sprint for the line.
Luke Rowe 🇬🇧 (Team Sky) The welshman has shown some very impressive early season form with Team Sky. His stage at the Herald Sun Tour was a big show of intent. Team Sky will be in the mix towards the end, and Rowe could be just the candidate. Oliver Naesen 🇧🇪 (AG2R La Mondiale) A little bit of an outsider the former IAM rider has all the capabilities to make it as a classics specialist, he would defiantly have the element of surprise ! Sep Vanmarcke 🇧🇪 (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team) Unlike Naesen, their will be no element of surprise with the unluckiest man in modern day classic cycling. Coudl Vanmarcke take the victory? I predict another strong top 10 finish. Then their is Bryan Coquard 🇫🇷 (Direct Energie) Although a sprinter, Coquard is made of tough stuff if he finds himself in a select group, there will not be many faster. Scary to think he is still only 24, he has seemingly been around for ages! Finally there is Lars Boom 🇳🇱 (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) The former cyclo-cross world champion could not be happier in the rain and mud. He will be forever remembered for his stage in appalling conditions at the Tour in 2014. His only change of victory is to get to the finish line without the company of a faster rider, with will require a well timed solo attack.
MY FANTASY TEAM (Purist)
It’s quite rare I can accommodate all of my selections within my fantasy team! So it was great to see the seemingly low valuations of Rowe, Naesen and Boom (all of which are under 10). Tom Boonen is only valued at 14.8, making my selection easy with the big valued riders of Kristoff, Sagan and GVA taking up the majority of the budget. I also have Vanmarcke to round of my team at 17.6. Within this team I have lots of riders who will be in contention for a lot of the classics. The competition is raced as a overall classics campaign, rather than one of races. The races covered by the competition are Omloop, Strade Bianchi, Milano-Sanremo, Dwars Door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallone, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Frankfurt. You are given a team of 8 riders and can make 50 transfers throughout the twelve “stages”.
Join the competition at fantasy.road.cc
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