Team of the Week: Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet, Rui Costa, and more

Peter Sagan heads up the latest team of the week after stellar performances in the opening Belgian cobbled Classics.

Leader: Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Peter Sagan in action at the Tour Down Under (Credit: Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

New haircut, but same old Peter Sagan. The world champion was on imperious form at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, although perhaps overestimated his strength by doing too much work early on, and had to settle for second.

>>> Peter Sagan: I've still got room for improvement after opening weekend of cobbled Classics

The next day at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, however, he showed a remarkable lack of fatigue to go out on the attack again, and this time paced himself perfectly and nailed the finish to outsmart a jittery Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors) for victory.

Strategist: Greg van Avermaet (BMC)

Greg Van Avermaet celebrates victory in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Credit: Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Greg Van Avermaet proved the smartest rider at Het Nieuwsblad, first being alert to selection-forming attacks from Sagan and Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo), and then striking the perfect balance between letting Sagan do the lion’s share of the work early on, then taking more turns himself to ensure the trio stayed away.

>>> 'They're the three strongest guys, it's never going to be easy to catch them'

Finally, when it came to the sprint, he forced Sagan to ride from the front, and timed his move perfectly to repeat his victory in the same race last year.

Team Captain: Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)

Jasper Stuyven attacks to force the final selection at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (Credit: Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Image credit: Corbis via Getty Images)

As if adopting the same instigating role of retired ex-teammate Fabian Cancellara, the 24-year old Stuyven took it upon himself to force the selection in both the weekend’s cobbled classics, leading the peloton up the Taaienberg at Het Nieuwsblad, and forcing Sagan and co to follow his decisive attack at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

>>> Eight riders who could spring a surprise in the cobbled Classics

He had the legs to match his aggression too, finishing second in the latter, closing a considerable gap to Peter Sagan in the final sprint.

Sprinter: Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors)

Marcel Kittel pips Caleb Ewan to stage two of the Abu Dhabi Tour (Credit: Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

In the season’s first big showdown between the major sprinters at the Abu Dhabi Tour, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Kittel and Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) each shared the spoils with a stage each.

Kittel’s was the most impressive, however. Despite finding himself well adrift on the finishing straight of stage two, he stormed up the peloton surfing wheels to pip an unsuspecting Ewan to the line.

Climber: Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates)

Rui Costa wins stage three of the Abu Dhabi Tour (Credit: Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

While Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and the other major favourites engaged in a phoney war on the Abu Dhabi Tour’s queen stage, Rui Costa took things into his own hands by committing to an attack on the Jebel Hafeet climb.

Only Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) followed his initiative, and the two capitalised on the others’ continued hesitancy to stay clear until the finish line - where Rui Costa promptly won the sprint to seal both the stage and overall victory.

Domestique: Ellen Van Dijk (Sunweb)

Ellen Van Dijk in action in Boels-Dolmans colours at the 2016 Tour of Qatar (Credit: Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Lucinda Brand has a lot to thank Sunweb teammate Ellen Van Dijk for helping her win Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. Van Dijk took the pressure off her teammate by getting into a two-woman break with Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) for much of the day, and then, when the catch was finally made, was able to mark their rivals as Brand embarked on her own race-winning attack.

Lead-out man: Roger Kluge (Orica-Scott)

Roger Kluge keeps Caleb Ewan out of the wind at the Abu Dhabi Tour (Credit: Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Of the sprint trains at the Abu Dhabi Tour Orica-Scott’s was the most impressive; and of their lead-out men Roger Kluge stood out, as his considerable frame shepherded the comparatively tiny Caleb Ewan to victory on stage four.

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