News: Mark Cavendish to race Strade Bianche


News: Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quickstep) is to race Strade Bianche this weekend along with Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans

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Mark Cavendish to race Strade Bianche

It seems to be the race all the stars want to ride, the Strade Bianche. Not only will Bradley Wiggins ride along with new classics winner Ian Stannard, but so is Mark Cavendish and Cadel Evans (BMC).



Ian Stannard moves his classics campaign to Italy

The next week sees a lot of big pro races and one team that will be as busy as most is Omega Pharma Quickstep. Driedaagse West-Vlaanderen, Strade Bianche and Paris-Nice are all on the race schedule for the Belgian team of Mark Cavendish.

The first race is the Belgian semi classic Driedaagse West-Vlaanderen, from March 7th until March 9th. OPQS has a good tradition at this race, with both stage and overall winners in the past. An OPQS rider won the overall in both 2012 and 2013, and also had a rider in 3rd overall for the 2013 edition.

“We have once again a good team, the same as the one that was a protagonist at Le Samyn,” Sport Director Rik Van Slycke said. “They are guys who can do well on these Belgian parcours, who are happy to ride there and go for a good result.”

090114 OPQS Media Day-Calpe (Spain) CAVENDISH ©Tim De Waele


Mark Cavendish heads for warmer climates in Italy for a classic encounter. Pic Tim De Waele/OPQS

On Saturday, there will be racing in Italy at Strade Bianche. The 197km race is becoming an important appointment on the race schedule, with teams on the start list from five different continents. It is far from easy, as the race includes 50km of gravel roads broken into 10 segments, including some with five star difficulty.

“This is a race that is becoming more and more important in the world of cycling,” Sport Director Davide Bramati said. “It’s become a kind of Italian Classic. As for OPQS, we are returning after some years of not participating in the race.”

“The parcours has changed, so tomorrow we will recon the last 50km of the race with our guys. We want to have a look and be prepared for the race on Saturday. It’s a very professional race and we have also good riders for this kind of difficult course. Michal Kwiatkowski, Michal Golas, and Matteo Trentin are riders that are used to difficult roads and can be present to try and do well.”

Finally, Sunday is the start of Paris-Nice, The 72nd edition, from March 9th until March 16th, is the first European UCI WorldTour race of the season.

“This year’s route doesn’t present a time trial, so it will probably be a more open race,” Sport Director Wilfried Peeters said. “There will be at the beginning a few stages suited for sprinters and riders who can defend themselves on the small climbs.”

“We can count on Tom Boonen and Gianni Meersman for these kinds of races. Going into the weekend, from Friday into Saturday, it will be more difficult. Stage six is a long stage of 221.5km, and in the final there is the 8.2 kilometer, Category 1 Col de Bourigaille to ascend at kilometer 202.5, followed by the finishing Category 2 climb on Fayence.”

“Even the seventh stage, with several categorized climbs from kilometer 49 to kilometer 131 out of 195.5 kilometers, will be very nervous. We will end the race with a really short 128 kilometer stage, but it is one which includes the Category 1 Col d’Eze late in the race as it is tradition. We will see what we can do. Our goal is to try and win a stage and try to get a good classification with riders like Jan Bakelants and Zdenek Stybar, to try and get a few WorldTour points.”

07.03–09.03 Driedaagse West-Vlaanderen (BEL) 2.1
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)
Thomas De Gendt (BEL)
Andrew Fenn (GBR)
Iljo Keisse (BEL)
Petr Vakoc (CZE)
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL)
Martin Velits (SVK)
Julien Vermote (BEL)

07.03.14 Prologue Middelkerke – Middelkerke 7.0 km (ITT)
08.03.14 Stage 1 Brugge – Harelbeke 182.9 km
09.03.14 Stage 2 Nieuwpoort – Ichtegem 185.9 km

08.03 Strade Bianche (ITA) 1.1
Mark Cavendish (GBR)
Michal Golas (POL)
Michal Kwiatkowski (POL)
Alessandro Petacchi (ITA)
Wout Poels (NED)
Mark Renshaw (AUS)
Matteo Trentin (ITA)
Rigoberto Uran Uran (COL)

Length 197.0 km
Start 10:35
Finish 15:46

09.03–16.03 Paris – Nice (FRA) WT
Jan Bakelants (BEL)
Tom Boonen (BEL)
Nikolas Maes (BEL)
Gianni Meersman (BEL)
Gert Steegmans (BEL)
Zdenek Stybar (CZE)
Niki Terpstra (NED)
Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL)

09.03.14 Stage 1 Mantes-la-Jolie – Mantes-la-Jolie 162.5 km
10.03.14 Stage 2 Rambouillet – Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche 205.0 km
11.03.14 Stage 3 Toucy – Circuit-Nevers-Magny-Cours 180.0 km
12.03.14 Stage 4 Nevers – Belleville 201.5 km
13.03.14 Stage 5 Chr̻ches-sur-Sa̫ne РRive-de-Gier 152.5 km
14.03.14 Stage 6 Saint-Saturnin-les-Avignon – Fayence 221.5 km
15.03.14 Stage 7 Mougins – Biot 195.5 km
16.03.14 Stage 8 Nice – Nice


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