Etixx - Quick-Step took advantage of the good weather on Friday and performed last minute reconnaissance of the final 70 kilometers of 202.2k Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, which included the hellingen of the race on Saturday. Riders who participated were Tom Boonen, Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra, and Matteo Trentin. Their comments about the race are listed below.
"It's always good to have it fresh in the mind," Boonen said about the parcours. "At the last minute I decided to participate in this recon and I think we had better weather than the other teams who did it on Wednesday. We took it easy and now have the afternoon to relax. As for the race, the parcours in the final is the same that we faced in the last years. I haven't checked the start list yet but I know about most of the top guys who will be here. Many of them were already at Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman. But to be honest I think it will be tomorrow at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad where the riders of the Classics will start to show themselves. The races we've done so far aren't really races where you can make comparisons. Qatar only had one day where it was really full gas to the finish line with only 15 guys left in the group for the final. At Oman, there was one mountain stage where you can't make judgments of Classics riders who are a little bigger in size on the climbs. We didn't really have any chances to show how good we were on hilly parcours that suited us. So I think Saturday we will know how it is with everybody. At this race I was two times 2nd and one time 3rd. Of course it's an objective. But you can never really predict these kinds of races. We are here with a strong team and I think we can do something for sure and honor the first Belgian race of the season."
"I think the key moment will be the Taaienberg," Stybar said. "Until that point it is always very hard. It's about positioning before that point, and the selections are starting to be made. From that point the race eases up a bit. Then you assert your position and form your strategy for the rest of the race. I think it is our advantage that our team is so well-rounded. Anyone can win and we can play a role in any scenario. I think for our team it is an open race and we just have to make sure that we always move at the right moment, and everyone supports the strongest rider with however the race evolves."
"Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman were of course good," Terpstra said. "With an overall and ITT win in Qatar I was of course happy. Oman was also a hard race with some mountain stages that can help the condition. This week it was about getting acclimated to the cold temperatures and recover a bit, and then get ready for tomorrow. Last year I was in the actions and I will try to do that again, but also try to get a good result. This will be the first of a long series of races. My shape is OK but there can still be improvements until the end of March. Tomorrow I want to be good, and then take it step-by-step. Even if I am not Belgian, I really feel these races and want to focus on Omloop Het Nieuwsblad tomorrow."
"The crash at Tour of Oman hurt, because I felt my skin taken off by the ground," Trentin said. "For the first half an hour it was really painful. I went home that evening and fortunately could train already a few days later on the rollers. Now I am here ready to race for this weekend. I still feel a little bit of pain in my back from the crash, but I hope once the adrenaline of the race hits, even that pain will disappear. Tomorrow is the first real test for the Classics, with cold temperatures and the right kind of parcours. I hope to be OK and will do my best, as I am always highly motivated for these kinds of races."