Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s reserves run deep. To complete its eight-man roster for the Tour of Flanders, the Belgian super team has plenty of men to choose from, including today’s Three Days of De Panne winner Guillaume Van Keirsbulck. This afternoon along the Belgian coast, Van Keirsbulck showed he is in shape to help the team's two leader Tom Boonen and Niki Terpstra in Flanders.
"With the win, I hope for a spot on Omega Pharma's team," Van Keirsbulck told journalists at the finish line in De Panne. "It's not a given in such a strong team, but I think that I have shown that I deserve a spot."
Maciej Bodnar (Cannondale) won the final 14.3-kilometre time trial but Van Keirsbulck, a man the locals call the new Tom Boonen, rode aggressively enough in the previous three stages to steal the overall win from team-mate Gert Steegmans.
The black and blue team bases itself in Flanders and counts five wins in its local race, so it takes team selection seriously. The six riders General Manager Patrick Lefevere selects will have to be able to support Boonen and Terpstra for a possible win. Boonen already won three times and Terpstra placed sixth in 2012.
Terpstra has been on fire this year. He won the Tour of Qatar overall, the Dwars door Vlaanderen one-day classic last Wednesday and placed second to Peter Sagan in E3 Harelbeke.
"We have a lot of classics riders, and everyone is in good shape," 23-year-old Van Keirsbulck said. "It's a big fight even to get onto the eight-man team."
The six-foot-three Belgian, whose grand-father Benoni Beheyt won the 1963 road worlds, last road the Tour of Flanders in 2011 – his debut year. Already this year, he helped Boonen win the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne one-day race and Terpstra to the Dwars door Vlaanderen title. Today, he added one to his own palmarès.
"On this team, it's not so easy, because it has all the best riders, so I try to do my best, and work for the team," he said. "Sometimes it comes together, and you can get lucky, and win a nice race."
Omega Pharma might call on Iljo Keisse, Nikolas Maes, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin and Stijn Vandenbergh to complete the team with Van Keirsbulck. The team will name its riders at a pre-race press confrence tomorrow afternoon.
The eventual six will support one of the team’s leaders, Boonen or Terpstra, towards the win.
"Which one of us? That is a big thing among the Belgian journalists," Terpstra said. "There are always questions over team leadership, but the race will decide everything. The race puts everyone in their place."
Omega Pharma-QuickStep leader Tom Boonen hits the cobbles to train for the Tour of Flanders
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