Flanders buildup: News on Armstrong, Eisel, Rollin and more

Armstrong to make rare Flanders appearance, Cavendish and Eisel on HTC-Columbia's Flanders team, Dominique Rollin heads the injury-plagued Cervelo squad

Tour of Flanders Live on

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Lance Armstrong will make a rare spring classics appearance Sunday with a scheduled start at the Tour of Flanders.

Armstrong riding near Flanders on Thursday. AFP Photo

The seven-time Tour de France winner pulled out of Milan-San Remo last month with a stomach bug and raced the two-day Critérium International last weekend in Corsica.

Armstrong added the five-day Circuit de la Sarthe to his schedule to get some extra race miles into his legs as he nears his first major goal of the season at the Tour of California in May.

Armstrong joins Sébastien Rosseler and Tomas Vaitkus to try to challenge for victory. Belgian rider Gert Steegmans crashed out of Paris-Nice with a broken clavicle and has not recovered in time for Sunday’s Flanders.

RadioShack for Tour of Flanders: Lance Armstrong (USA), Markel Irizar (ESP), Geoffroy Lequatre (FRA), Dmitriy Muravyev (KAZ), Yaroslav Popovych (UKR), Gregory Rast (SUI), Sébastien
Rosseler (BEL), Tomas Vaitkus (LTU)

Cavendish, Eisel for HTC-Columbia

Following his spectacular victory in the leading Belgian Classic Ghent-Wevelgem, Bernhard Eisel will be the leader of HTC-Columbia in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday.

“He won in Ghent-Wevelgem and of all the team, he has the most realistic chance of winning in Flanders,” said HTC-Columbia sports director Tristan Hoffman. “He’s really focused, he’s shown he’s got great form, and we will try and bring him to the crucial final kilometers in the best position possible.”

Hoffman said Eisel’s Ghent-Wevelgem victory last weekend gives him a huge shot of confidence ahead of the most important races on the calendar.

“For him, winning Ghent-Wevelgem was a big step up. He’s always been very generous when it comes to working for the team, but now he can smell those wins for himself, too,” Hoffman said. “He’s growing into a new role, but we’re sure he’s got the confidence to handle himself well. Flanders is a very tough race, but there’s no doubt HTC-Columbia has a very motivated squad for this event.”

The Tour of Flanders 2010 also sees Mark Cavendish take part in the Belgian classic for the first time in his career.

“He’ll have a free role within the team’s bigger game plan,” Hoffman said. “He’ll be working for Bernie and be learning about Flanders as well.”

HTC-Columbia for Flanders: Mark Cavendish (GB), Bernhard Eisel (Aut), Matt Goss (Aus), Vicente Reynes (Spa), Hayden Roulston (NZ), Marcel Sieberg (Ger), Martin Velits (Svk)

Rollin in for injury-racked Cervélo

Dominique Rollin will get the nod at Cervélo after two of its top hopes have been sidelined with injuries. Heinrich Haussler, runner-up last year, is out of the northern classics with a knee injury, while Andreas Klier, second in 2005, is KO’d with a concussion.

The team instead will lean on Thor Hushovd and Roger Hammond to step up. Rollin will be getting his first Flanders start and will be looking to help out as best he can.

“Thor is our leader for the race,” said Cervélo sport director Jean-Paul van Poppel. “We will support him 100 percent to achieve the best possible result.”

Cervélo for Flanders

Dominique Rollin (Can), Jeremy Hunt (GBr), Thor Hushovd (Nor), Martin Reimer (Swi), Brett Lancaster (Aus), Daniel Lloyd (GBr), Gabriel Rasch (Swi)