Leader: Greg van Avermaet (BMC)
What a week it’s been for Greg Van Avermaet, who rode with devastating aggression to win both Friday’s E3 Harelbeke and Sunday’s Ghent-Wevelgem, becoming only the second rider in history to triumph in those races and Het Nieuwsblad in the same season.
The Belgian is clearly on the form of his life, and the one race he desires to win above all else takes place this Sunday – the Tour of Flanders. Victory there would seal what has up until now been the perfect spring.
Road Captain: Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors)
There was a stirring moment during the E3 Harelbeke when the soon-to-be-retired Tom Boonen took to the front of the peloton on the Taaienberg, a climb he has made his own over his esteemed career.
There was more to the move than just sentimental value, however. His explosive acceleration helped set-up a counter-attack from Philippe Gilbert that would shape the race’s major selection.
Climber: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
As devastating as Alejandro Valverde’s punchy accelerations are, he usually rides the very biggest mountains in a more reserved, cautious manner, aware that he’s not as pure a climber as some of his rivals.
That was not the case on the queen stage of last week’s Volta a Catalunya, however, where he attacked Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), no less, to ride to victory.
Sprinter: Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo-Bigla)
Lepisto was the main benefactor as the women’s editions of both Dwars Door Vlaanderen and Ghent-Wevelgem bucked the trend of recent years and culminated in large group sprints.
In both cases the Finnish rider – whose previous biggest victory had been a sprint to Kettering at last year’s Women’s Tour – managed to overcome the cobbled obstacles, and had the quickest kick the finish to defeat fearsome sprinters Gracie Elvin (Orica-Scott) in the former and Jolien d’Hoore in the latter.
She’s marked herself out as a major favourite for this weekend’s Tour of Flanders, although all the other favourites will now be intent on dropping her before the finish.
Rouleur: Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors)
Quick-Step Floors might have left empty handed in the week’s two World Tour-ranked classics, but their emerging talent Lampart gave them something to celebrate when he finished off an exemplary one-two tactic with Philippe Gilbert at Dwars Door Vlaanderen to ride off for a solo victory.
Domestique: Marc Soler (Movistar)
23-year old Spaniard Marc Soler is probably going to be a star in his own right, but for now he makes for an invaluable domestique of Valverde’s.
He was able to keep up with the pace throughout the entire race, a reliable presence that dutifully stuck to Valverde’s side, and put in the decisive turn at the front of the peloton that paved the way for his leader’s stage-winning attack on Lo Port.
Domestique: Lisa Klein (Cervelo-Bigla)
Accompanying Lepisto in both her classics wins this weekend was young domestique Lisa Klein, who particularly impressed at the Dwars Door Vlaanderen, where she committed herself to ensuring that her leader was in contention to sprint for the victory.