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Philippe Gilbert, Anna van der Breggen begin classics calendar at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Classics stars like Zdenek Stybar, Chantal Blaak, and Mads Petersen will be in Gent this coming weekend for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Top names converge on the Belgian city of Gent next weekend for the opening of the spring classics calendar at the 75th running of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Race officials confirmed provisional start lists for both the men’s and women’s races, both held on February 29. Defending champions Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) headline stellar fields for both races.

In the men’s race, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad should see the season’s first major clash between perennial favorites Deceuninck-Quick-Step and the fortified Lotto-Soudal. Paris-Roubaix champion Philippe Gilbert will headline against his former team alongside Lotto-Soudal teammate Tim Wellens. Stybar will see support from Yves Lampaert, Bob Jungels and Jasper Asgreen.

Other top names looking to start the spring classics off with a bang include Jasper Stuyven, Edward Theuns and world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) as well as Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) and Oliver Naesen and Stijn Vandenbergh (Ag2r-La Mondiale). Gent native Tiesj Benoot makes his classics debut with Sunweb, while Nils Politt lines up for Israel Start-Up Nation, and Michael Valgren and Alexander Kristoff headline for NTT.

All eyes will be on Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), who clicks his ambitious spring classics calendar into gear. One top name missing will be Peter Sagan. The Bora-Hansgrohe rider debuted in Argentina, but will not race again until Strade Bianche as he builds toward the Giro d’Italia in May.

On the women’s side, the race is now firmly established and this year represents the 15th edition. Anna van der Breggen and Jip van den Bos will back Van den Broek-Blaak. World champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton Scott) will be heavily favored after an intense training block at altitude.

Tour Down Under winner Ruth Winder, Lucinda Brand and Ellen van Dijk headline Trek-Segafredo. Marta Bastianelli, winner of the Tour of Flanders in 2019, leads Ale’ BTC Ljubljana. Coryn Rivera is targeting a strong spring with Sunweb, while Leah Thomas lines up with a deep Bigla-Katusha team.