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Mathieu van der Poel will race Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

Dutch star was forced to leave UAE Tour due to a COVID-19 case among one of the team staffers, and will race Sunday in Belgium.

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Mathieu van der Poel won’t be racing Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but he will be racing Sunday at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Alpecin-Fenix officials confirmed their lineups Thursday for this weekend’s classics, and will send van der Poel to the more sprinter-friendly course Sunday at Kuurne, while Jasper Philipsen will headline the team’s efforts at Omloop.

“I will be at the start of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne with a good feeling after my stage victory at the UAE Tour,” van der Poel said. “It’s good to have an extra day of racing before I leave for Italy.”

The roster confirmations come following speculation about whether or not van der Poel would be racing this weekend following the team’s unexpected exit from the UAE Tour.

Van der Poel, who won Sunday’s opening stage at the UAE Tour for his first road win in 2021, later tested negative and was allowed to travel back to Europe. Follow-up controls and more tests are required to allow van der Poel to race this weekend. Philipsen, who was also at the UAE Tour, is on the team’s Omloop roster.

“Obviously, I would have liked to have continued at the UAE Tour, because I had a nice lead in the GC, and a good final GC was in the making,” van der Poel said. “I’m also happy we got home without any problems, and that the spring campaign hasn’t been jeopardized. We can be ambitious for Kuurne.”

Following this weekend’s action, van der Poel is scheduled to continue with his original calendar that includes Strade Bianche (March 6), Tirreno-Adriatico (March 10-16), and Milano-Sanremo (March 20).

Several team staffers and riders remain quarantined in the United Arab Emirates, and team officials confirmed that some have returned negative controls.