Saturday, 26 March 2016

After an exciting Sunday a week ago with three big races taking part on the same day, rider will now facet one big classic and first race of Nations Cup series, Grote Prijs André Noyelle (aka Gent Wevelgem U19).

History of the race started in 1983 when Reginald Vandamme won the first edition. In 1996 race was named after André Noyelle, the only Belgian Olympic gold medalist in cycling who was born in Ypres, city host of this event . On the list of previous winners you may find some big names like Meersman, Stannard and Devolder. Dutch riders are having a nice memories from this Belgian classic as they have won last three editions (Looij in 2013, Cornelisse in 2014 and Eenkhoorn in 2015). 

Pascal Eenkhoorn winning 2015 edition (photo:Kenny Desaever)

Route

The route has been essentially changed comparing to last year's edition. Two things didn't change: the race will still start and finish in Ieper and the key point of the route will be famous Kemmelberg climb. The race is much longer then last year, 120km compared to  96 kilometers from 2015 edition. Riders will face less cobbled climbs but they are closer to the finish and will have a bigger impact to the race tactics, especially that all cobbled sections will be held with the final 50 kilometers of the race. From five hellingens, both Kemmelberg and Monteberg will be tackled twice with the last pass over Monteberg is just 12km from the finish.

Race profile (photo: kattekoers.be)
Favorites

For the first time the race will be held as an Nations Cup event which means we will have nation teams instead of club teams on start line in Ieper. Apart from sixteen nation teams we will also have several regional teams from Belgium, Netherlands and France plus South East Team from GB. Before I mention some of the favorites it's worth to notice two big missing on the startlist. First of them is US junior team which have chosen alternative start of their European campaign and decided to ride in Ster Van Zuid Limburg. Second notable miss is Jasper Philipsen who will also ride in Ster to prepare for the Roubaix.

For a cobbled classic in Belgium, we have to start with Belgian national team. The team, despite lacking Philipsen is very strong and each of their rider can win the race for sure. Personally I have picked Arne Marit, winner of Nokere Koerse u19 and Wesley Vercamst who finished in top10 on both Kuurne Brussel Kuurne and Guido Reybrouck Classic. But it could also be Trystan Five, third in Guido Reybrouck Classic last Sunday.

Almost as strong as the Belgians is French team. Here we have a clear leader in Clement Betouigt Suire who was second in Guido Reybrouck Classic. Other strong candidates are Alexys Brunel and Mathieu Burgaudeau.

Great Britain team looks pretty strong either with clear leader, Ethan Hayter. He really impressed me in Kuurne Brussel Kuurne beating two pre race favorites. Last week, he made a crucial move in Guido Reybrouck Classic and Jasper Philipsen was the only one that could follow him. If nothing goes wrong, Hayter will be the man to beat on Sunday.

Another nation that is always strong in this type of races in Denmark. The team is clearly not the strongest one as some of the top guys who rides for Team Kelberg Roskilde (full name from in 2016: Team Børkop Cykler - Carl Ras Roskilde Junior) are riding in Ster van Zuid Limburg at the same time but they can still surprise the top favorites. Fredrik Jensen was sixth in GP Bob Jungels and should be a team leaderon Sunday.

Finally the Dutch team can rely or Jarno Mobach who won Zepperen-Zepperen few weeks back beating Quaterman and Burnel and recently finished fifth in both Grand Prix Bob Jungels and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. If not, Dennis Van der Horst, recently third in GP Jan Bergé, is also the man to watch, especially for sprint from a bigger group.

Other notable starters: Moreno Marchetti, Michele Gazzoli, Michel Ries, Sedrik Ullebo, Ziga Jerman, Reto Muller, Marc Hirschi and Thomas Pidcock.

Website
Startlist
Roadbook

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