Our squad will have several cards to play this weekend, including two-time winner Philippe Gilbert and Ronde van Vlaanderen victor Niki Terpstra.
One of the last major classics of the season, Paris-Tours runs this year its 112th edition, one whose route has undergone some significant changes from what the riders were used to in the past, with the addition of 12.5 kilometers of vineyard tracks and seven new climbs, all jammed in the final 60 kilometers, thus giving a whole new dimension to the race created in 1896, same year as Paris-Roubaix.
Shortened to 214.5 kilometers, Paris-Tours will kick off from the beautiful city of Chartres, in the Eure-et-Loir department, where double winner Philippe Gilbert will be among those at the start, a decade after first winning the French Classic. For the 36-year-old Belgian, it will be the last European appointment of the season, before flying to Asia, where he is set to take part in the inaugural Hammer Hong Kong and the Tour of Guangxi.
Joining him in the Quick-Step Floors squad that will take on uncharted territory on Sunday will be Dries Devenyns, Fabio Jakobsen, Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert, Jhonatan Narvaez, Florian Sénéchal and Niki Terpstra, third last year at Paris-Tours, when Quick-Step Floors captured a remarkable third consecutive victory on the famous Avenue de Grammont, setting a new record for a trade team at the prestigious one-day race.
Sports director Brian Holm looks with confidence to Paris-Tours and its revamped course, which could bring plenty of twists and turns to what used to be known as the "sprinters' classic".
"We are going with a strong team at the start, comprising riders who can all do very well on small roads, gravel section and punchy climbs. It's a new route compared to last year, and all these extra ingredients will make for a different race and a different tactic, but one thing is for sure: the finale will bring plenty of fireworks", said Brian Holm. "Having won the last three editions, I think it's safe to say that this is a race that suits us well and which we like. All our riders can be in contention when things are decided and we will do our best to bring home another good result from Paris-Tours."
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