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Terpstra and Van der Poel confirmed for Tour of Flanders

Joe Robinson
7 Feb 2019

Direct-Energie and Corendon-Circus among seven ProContinental invites at De Ronde

Niki Terpstra and Mathieu van der Poel will be among the ProContinental firepower racing the Tour of Flanders as both Direct Energie and Corendon-Circus gain wildcard entries.

Terpstra will return as defending champion although as leader of the French Direct Energie team following his departure from QuickStep over the winter. 

The ageing Dutchman was among a collection of riders to be let go from Patrick Lefevere's WorldTour team as he struggled to secure the financial future of his team. Belgian PVC company Deceuninck eventually stepped in albeit after Terpstra had signed with his new team.

Terpstra's move to Direct Energie was somewhat of a surprise, with many assuming he could have found a place in the WorldTour, although this change of scenery will allow him to become unprecedented Classics leader.

The 34-year-old will now attempt to become the first rider outside of the WorldTour to win a Monument since Gerald Ciolek's snowy Milan-San Remo exploits in 2013. 

Terpstra will not be alone in this, however, as confirmation of Corendon-Circus at the Tour de Flanders means that recently crowned cyclocross World Champion Mathieu van der Poel will be making his Monument debut.

The 24-year-old will take his first tilt at success on the road by riding a streamlined Spring Classics campaign that will also include Gent-Wevelgem and the Amstel Gold Race.

Although Van der Poel has stated he will only be riding De Ronde for the experience, it is difficult to see him not having some sort of impact on the race's outcome. He will also have the added motivation of being the son of a former winner with father Adrie winning the 1986 edition. 

Among the other wildcard teams present at Flanders will be home teams, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise and Wanty-Gobert, as well as Cofidis and Vital Concept from France. The final invite has been handed to Roompot-Charles.

Race director Scott Sunderland commented that the wildcard teams at the Tour de Flanders in 2019 could be among the strongest ever seen at the race.

'The wildcard invitations given out in 2019 will see one of the strongest lineups of ProContinental teams to date, with these teams all thoroughly prepared and eager to perform at the Tour of Flanders in April,' said Sunderland.

'With last year’s winner Niki Terpstra leading his new team Direct Energie, he will be on the hunt to make it back-to-back wins.

'Terpstra’s younger fellow Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), the freshly crowned world champion cyclocross star, will be wanting to make history himself by following in the footsteps of his father Adrie, winner of the 1986 Tour of Flanders.