Team HTC-Columbia starts its Belgian Classics season this weekend with a double dose of racing action, first tackling Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday February 27th, then Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday February 28th.
"There's some windy, wet weather forecast, so it's going to be a tough two days," commented HTC-Columbia's sports director Allan Peiper. "The courses are pretty much the same, but the roads are in a poor state because of the freezing weather we've had all winter, and that'll make it even harder. Bernie [Bernhard Eisel] has had a good block of racing, from the Tour Down Under through to Qatar and Oman, so he's very ready for this weekend. And Marcel Sieberg and Martin Velits are both good for this kind of racing."
"We've checked out the courses both for Het Nieuwsblad and for the Tour of Flanders this week, so the riders have had enough time to adapt to the conditions and know what they're going to face. Kuurne is more suited to the sprinters, but you have to make a choice between one race or the other, it's not possible to go all out in both. So we'll see who's good on which day and take it from there."
HTC-Columbia are also racing on Sunday in Spain, in the one-day Clásica de Almeria.
"They've changed the course a bit compared to last year but we're expecting a bunch sprint," says sports director Brian Holm. "It should be a very fast race."
HTC-Columbia for Het Nieuwsblad: Lars Bak (Den); Gert Dockx (Bel); Bernhard Eisel (Aut); Matt Goss (Aus); Vicente Reynes (Spa); Marcel Sieberg (Ger); Tejay Van Garderen (USA); Martin Velits (Svk).
HTC-Columbia for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne: Lars Bak (Den); Gert Dockx (Bel); Jan Ghyselinck (Bel); Adam Hansen (Aus); Vicente Reynes (Spa); Hayden Roulston (NZ); Marcel Sieberg (Ger); Martin Velits (Svk).
HTC-Columbia for Clásica Almeria: Mark Cavendish (GB), Patrick Gretsch (Ger); Rasmus Guldhammer (Den); Maxime Monfort (Bel); Marco Pinotti (Ita); Frantisek Rabon (Cze).