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by Shane Stokes
March 31, 2018
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
Defending champion Philippe Gilbert knows he will be one of the most closely-watched riders on Sunday, but he believes that his form and the collective team strength of QuickStep Floors could pay off. He finished second in the E3 Harelbeke and was one of the strongest in Gent-Wevelgem, and has rested since the latter to be in prime condition for Sunday’s race.
“I recovered after Gent-Wevelgem, and even though the sensations aren’t the same as last year, the feeling is good and I am confident and ready,” he said. “We always take the responsibility and do our job, pushing the race in the direction we want. Of course, it will be difficult to control the race throughout, especially in the first hour which is always very stressful, but we are confident in the team’s strength. At the end of the day, the most important thing will be for our squad to take the victory.”
The squad has been one of the most dominant in the spring period, and its CEO Patrick Lefevere is feeling good about its chances. “I don’t think I need to repeat how strong we are. We already proved this season that we are one team and everyone knows what he has to do,” he said. “We have several riders capable of winning this race and we don’t need to control the others, they have to control us.
“Last year, when we attacked on the Muur, people said we were crazy, but we showed that it wasn’t a reckless move. We have different scenarios in mind, the riders are focused on their job and hopefully one of these will bring us great joy at the end of the day.”