Van Avermaet on Flanders: ‘I hope this year is my year’; Benoot ‘ready to go full on Sunday’; Degenkolb says Flanders leadership is for Stuyven, he will target Roubaix; Gilbert: ‘We are confident in the team’s strength’; Vanmarcke, Langeveld re-sign with EF Education First – Drapac; Brennauer: Even without Longo Borghini, Wiggle High5 ‘has more than one card to play’; Martinez released from hospital, will not race until concussion is gone; Commemorating Mike Hall; Video: Maniac Does Wheelies On An Exposed Beam 130 Feet High
Favourites talk chances prior to Flanders, Vanmarcke extends: Daily News Digest
The Wiggle High5 team will be missing 2015 race winner Elisa Longo Borghini from its Tour of Flanders lineup, due to the flu the Italian champion has had since Gent-Wevelgem, but believes it will still be in the mix on Sunday.
“Of course we will miss Elisa, her experience in this race, and her strength, but we can still bring a good line up,” said teammate Lisa Brennauer. “I think we’re a pretty strong group anyway, and we are all excited about this race. The girls did a recon, which I had to miss because I’ve had a bit of a cold, but I will be able to get out and check out some roads.”
Brennauer is a former world TT champion and has been performing well in recent weeks. She was fifth in the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, and helped teammate Kirsten Wild in the Ronde van Drenthe and Gent-Wevelgem. “I’ve never been in the very front [in Flanders] but I feel like my form is good, and I’ve been good in the first races so far,” she said. “It’s also for me really exciting to see how far I can get on Sunday, and of course I will give my best.
“I also saw Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] doing well on the climbs, and she was also doing well in positioning, so I think she will also be a key rider in Sunday’s race. I think in the end we have more than only one option, and more than only one card to play. Obviously, Kirsten has made a huge step over the winter, and she’s going really well over the climbs. I think the race can also suit her, with the form that she’s shown in the past weeks, and she’s maybe still on a bit of a cloud from the World Championships!” Wild won three world titles at the recent track worlds, and is quick enough to prevail if there is a bunch sprint or select group at the end.