Mark Cavendish in, Caleb Ewan out for Brugge-De Panne
Cavendish leads all-conquering Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl train at Belgian classic, Ewan pulls out due to ongoing illness.
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It’s a case of “win some, lose some” for organizers of Minerva Classic Brugge-De Panne.
Monday saw confirmation that sprint superstar Mark Cavendish will lead Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl at Wednesday’s one-dayer, but also saw news that Aussie fast-finisher Caleb Ewan is pulling out of his planned start.
Ewan was forced to join the peloton’s brimming infirmary ward last week and missed Milan-San Remo as a result. A few days later, the Lotto-Soudal speedster is looking no better.
“Caleb Ewan is not yet recovered from the stomach flu that kept him out of Milan-San Remo,” the team wrote on Twitter. “He will not be at the start of Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem.”
Meanwhile, Cavendish got the nod over teammate Fabio Jakobsen to lead the all-conquering Quick-Step train at De Panne.
Cavendish, hot off victory at Milano-Torino last week, will see assistance from pilot-de-luxe Michael Mørkøv and highly-rated sprint assistant Bert Van Lerberghe.
The selection makes for a surprise after Jakobsen was initially touted to be Quick-Step’s sprint option for De Panne as he rides toward a turn at this weekend’s prestigious Gent-Wevelgem.
Cavendish and Jakobsen are currently locked into an intra-team battle for supremacy in the quest for selection for this summer’s Tour de France. Jakobsen has already amassed six victories and has been touted as Patrick Lefevere’s first choice, but Cavendish’s prestigious wins at UAE Tour and Milano-Torino keep him well in the frame.
De Panne: Potential for wind, guarantee of sprinters
Brugge-De Panne is the first in the major block of Belgian classics after last month’s “opening weekend.”
Although the race is short on the cobbles so readily associated with its Flandrien location, it is known to be battered by more than enough wind to produce equal amounts of chaos.
“De Panne is flat, but by no means an easy race. We have several laps to tackle and we will go through De Moeren, always known for the crosswinds that can bring chaos in the peloton. It remains to be seen if it will happen also on Wednesday, but at the moment this scenario doesn’t look likely,” Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Tom Steels said.
“We are sending to the start a solid and determined team capable of controlling the race, and if it comes down to a bunch sprint, Mark has several guys he can rely on to be up there and go for another good result.”
Who will “Cav” be up against Wednesday?
A lot of fast finishers, that’s who. Dylan Groenewegen, Tim Merlier, Mads Pedersen, Pascal Ackermann, and Arnaud Démare are also slated to be on the startline.