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Three favourites for the Tour of Flanders, but which of them has the best team?

Joseph Delves
29 Mar 2017

With the most important week in Classics season upon us, which squad is ahead of the rest?

Although all 18 WorldTour teams are mandated to send squads, there are some for whom the Classics are a bit of a formality, and there are those for whom they’re the focus of the entire season.

It’s no surprise that the favourites for this Sunday’s Tour of Flanders all ply their trade for one of the archetypal Classics squads. For these teams the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix are the real focus of the season, not the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia.

BMC Racing, Bora-Hansgrohe and Quick-Step Floors. Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan and Philippe Gilbert.

Quick-Step Floors

Traditionally thought of as ‘the’ Classics squad, the Belgian registered Quick-Step Floors have incredible depth in numbers. Their usual tactic is to swamp the race, getting multiple riders into the break, while leaving others to sit in the chasing bunch, so as to create the option to attack again if the riders up the road get chased down.

It’s hard to judge who the team themselves fancy for the win.

The most successful contemporary Classics rider, their road captain Tom Boonen would dearly love to add a record breaking fourth Flanders win to his palmares should the chance present itself.

However, having recently shown amazing form in this week’s Driedaagse De Panne, Phillippe Gilbert’s efforts have unexpectedly catapulted him into the position of serious podium contender, although it remains to be seen if he’s kept enough in the tank come Sunday.

Rounding out the team’s multi-pronged approach are Zdenek Stybar and Niki Terpstra, both of whom are serious contenders.

BMC Racing

Over at BMC Racing, Van Avermaet’s storming Classics campaign has seen him complete a hat-trick of wins encompassing Gent-Wevelgem, E3 Harelbeke and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

This string of form has led to him being touted as equal favourite with World Champ Sagan. However, with some commentators tipping him to take the Ronde he’s unlikely to be given the scope to attack which has previously helped him slip away from his Slovak rival.

Although the squad have looked strong as a unit, there’s not many other names that jump out as potential winners on the American registered team’s provisional start list. So while they might try hanging a man out in the break, it’s likely to be all out to help Van Avermaet.

Bora-Hansgrohe

Many commentators wondered how Sagan would fare at Bora-Hansgrohe, having previously enjoyed the supporting firepower of the now defunct Tinkoff mega team.

Even so, if there was ever a ride able to generate his own luck it’s Sagan. Despite losing out several times this year he’s consistently looked the strongest rider in almost every race he’s entered.

Perpetually marked, that his status as favourite has slumped somewhat may turn out to be no bad thing. Van Avermaet is likely to find himself just as closely marked.

Similarly to rivals BMC, you have to look a long way down the list of favourites to find another Bora-Hansgrohe rider. So the entire squad is likely to feature only as supporting actor in the Sagan show this Sunday.

Likely outcome: Quickstep mob the race, Sagan and Avermaet try and get away on the bergs
Strongest team: Quick-Step Floors
Favourite: Sagan (just)
Longshot: Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac)

 

 

Start List

Bora-Hansgrohe

Peter Sagan, Skv
Christoph Pfingsten, Ger
Marcus Burghardt, Ger
Michal Kolar, Skv
Juraj Sagan, Skv
Maciej Bodnar, Pol
Aleksejs Saramotins, Lat
Andreas Schillinger, Ger

Reserves

Erik Baska, Skv
Lukas Postlberger, Aut
Michael Schwarzmann, Ger
Rüdiger Selig, Ger

Quick-Step Floors

Tom Boonen, Bel
Fernando Gaviria,Col
Phillippe Gilbert, Bel
Iljo Keisse, Bel
Yves Lampaert, Bel
Zdenek Stybar, Cze
Niki Terpstra, Ned
Matteo Trentin, Ita

Reserves

Tim Declercq, Bel
Dries Devenyns, Bel
Maximiliano Richeze, Arg
Julien Vermote, Bel

BMC Racing Team

Greg Van Avermaet, Bel
Silvan Dillier, Sui
Jean-Pierre Drucker, Lux
Martin Elmiger, Sui
Stefan Küng, Sui
Manuel Quinziato, Ita
Daniel Oss, Ita
Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi, Esp

Reserves

Tom Bohli, Sui
Floris Gerts, Ned
Miles Scotson, Aus
Loic Vliegen, Bel