This weekend, Belgium will play host to the much-anticipated start of the Classics season. Ready for action, the AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step Elite Team will line up for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, while the U23 Team will make a season debut on Sunday in Craywinckelhof – Omloop van het Hageland.
These classics are the start of a very busy spring season on Belgian, French and Dutch roads, leading all the way to the last of this series at Liège-Bastogne-Liège on 23 April. After the great performances of the team in Spain and the stellar results by Ally Wollaston and Anya Louw in the Tour Down Under and the national championships, everyone is eager for more.
Rider Romy Kasper said, “The start of the Classics season is always special, even though I have done this for so many years now. We have all closely followed the races in Spain and Down Under and we all feel inspired to keep that good vibe going.”
The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is promoted to World Tour level this season, meaning all the top teams will come together for the 132 kilometres between Ghent and Ninove. The route includes famous hills like the Molenberg, Berendries, Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg and well-known cobbles like Haaghoek.
“The race is always nervous from the start and this year maybe even more so, because it’s now World Tour,” Romy explained. “The most important points come after Oudenaarde when there is one cobbled sector after the other. The final usually starts at the Muur. Even though we had these great results as a team already, we don’t want to race with too much pressure in these opening races. We go out there to have fun, execute the plan Jolien and Servais make and then we can’t go wrong. We just hope to do the best race possible as a team on both Saturday and Tuesday and see what the result will be.”
The Elite Team Line-Up: Maaike Boogaard (NED), Julia Borgström (SWE), Marthe Goossens(BEL), Romy Kasper (GER), Ilse Pluimers (NED), Nicole Steigenga (NED).