Team Sky announce the same squads to tackle Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne this weekend

Ian Stannard will not defend his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad title after being left out of Team Sky’s squad for Saturday’s race.

The Brit, who’s won the early season Classic for the past two years, is hoping to save himself for Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders rather than peak too soon into the season, as happened last season.

Luke Rowe is Team Sky’s best bet for victory in Het Nieuwsblad, while Elia Viviani will lead the team in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne the following day.

The British team have opted to put out the same line-up for both races this weekend, but Danny van Poppel’s debut for Sky has had to be put on ice because of a knee injury.

Andy Fenn and Alex Peters join Rowe as the only Brits in the eight-man squad, with three Italians also present in the shape of Gianni Moscon, Salvatore Puccio and Viviani.

Michael Golas, who joined Sky from Etixx-Quick Step over the winter is also included and Christian Knees rounds out the weekend’s team.

Van Poppel will have to wait to make his first appearance in Sky’s black and blue jersey, and says the delay is frustrating.

“I could hardly ride because of the pain,” he told NU.nl. “When I went out with the team, I was in the shower after ten minutes. It’s very tricky, but fortunately I have the right people around me to stay positive.”

Team Sky squad for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
Luke Rowe, Elia Viviani, Salvatore Puccio, Gianni Moscon, Andy Fenn, Alex Peters, Michal Golas, Christian Knees.