Both defending champions will be at the start of the season’s first cobbled Classics.

In 2019, Deceuninck – Quick-Step became the first team in more than three decades to win the two races of the Opening Weekend in the same year. Twenty-four hours after Zdenek Stybar soloed to victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad following a canny attack inside the final kilometers, Luxembourg Champion Bob Jungels did the same at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, a race shaped by our squad’s move on the slopes of Oude Kwaremont.

Held since 1945, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will run its 75th edition this Saturday, when the Wolfpack will line out in the beautiful city Gent for a 200km journey – peppered by 13 hills, including the iconic Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg – that will take them to Ninove. Stybar, who will pin number one on his jersey, will be joined by one of last season’s campaign revelations, Kasper Asgreen, Tim Declercq, Jungels, Iljo Keisse, former Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert and Florian Sénéchal.

On Sunday, the 72nd edition of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne will put on the table a revamped course that could prove difficult for the sprinters to be in contention at the finish. Despite the flat parcours in the last part of the 201km race, it remains to be seen if the peloton’s fast men will still be in the main group by then, as the route will offer the attackers plenty of opportunities to dispatch them.

Five of the Omloop riders will also be at the start of Sunday’s race, with Dutch Champion Fabio Jakobsen – one of the most in-form sprinters of this start to the season, who comes here after picking up a stage win and the points jersey at the Volta ao Algarve – and Bert Van Lerberghe set to replace Declercq and Sénéchal.

“The Opening Weekend brings two important races not just in Belgium, but of the whole cycling calendar, Omloop and Kuurne, which we both won several times. We are going there with a very strong and motivated squad and we are eager to see how our riders will kick off the Classics campaign. For Saturday, we have many cards that we can play, including last year’s winner Styby, depending on how the race will unfold. For Kuurne, we added also Fabio, who has shown a very good condition in Portugal last week, and he’ll be one of our options for a good result”, said sports director Wilfried Peeters, who will lead the team from the car together with Tom Steels and Rik Van Slycke.

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