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by Mark Zalewski
March 29, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Gilbert solos to win in De Panne opener; Summerhill takes over lead with stage win at Tour de Taiwan; Dr. Freeman breaks silence on medical package contents; UK Sport has ‘serious concerns’ about British Cycling’s handling of Shane Sutton case; Italian federation hands down bans for pay-to-race scandal; With strong Classics showing Naesen ready for De Ronde; Cipollini laments state of Italian cycling, ‘We only have Nibali’; Joe Martin Stage Race kicks-off UCI racing in US; Tour of the Gila announces teams; L’Etape South Africa postponed due to poor road surfaces; Video: Ben King shows off riding in Lucca; Video: Hunt VI.
AG2R La Mondiale’s Oliver Naesen is a young rider that is having a good Classics campaign. The 26-year-old began with top-10 results at both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne. He finished sixth at Dwars Door Vlaanderen and was in the three-rider, all-Belgian lead group at E3 Harelbeke. In that race he may have showed some of his inexperience in the finish, but his strong riding on the Classics stage is undebatable.
The final selection: Gilbert, Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen.
“I had great legs at Gent-Wevelgem, but the result did not show it in the end,” he said. “I am still satisfied with what I have accomplished in the past couple of races, especially at E3 Harelbeke where I managed to get a place on the podium.”
While Naesen only managed 22nd at Gent-Wevelgem he is looking forward to the Tour of Flanders this Sunday.
“I think I have turned a corner; I was hoping to be at this level at the beginning of the season. I am all ready for the Ronde van Vlaanderen, I know the roads by heart and my condition is there. It will be a long day of racing, more than six hours, in order to stay well position till the end.
“We will do a reconnaissance of the course during the week to refresh our memories of the route again. What’s the difference between this past week’s races and the Tour of Flanders? I will not brake in the corners!”