Hincapie and Burghardt Lead Team Columbia-Highroad in Tour of Flanders
Northern Classics champions George Hincapie and Marcus Burghardt will lead the Columbia-Highroad team in the Tour of Flanders tomorrow. Veteran Hincapie finished third in Flanders in 2006 as well as taking a string of top ten places in Belgium’s biggest one-day race.
“George is in the form of his life," says Allan Peiper, the Columbia-Highroad sports director at Flanders. "He did a great Milan-San Remo where he did a load of work for Cav (winner and teammate Mark Cavendish) in the final section of the race, and he is having a really good Spring overall. He didn’t do the Three Days of De Panne (warm-up race for Flanders) for the first time in about 15 years because we wanted him really fresh for this weekend. He’s just done one big training ride, then has eased back so he’s in good shape for Sunday.”
Peiper says Burghardt and Hincapie will be the “point of our spear for Flanders. At the same time, Bernie [Bernhard Eisel] is in great shape, too and has so much experience of this race. Together with Edvald [Boasson-Hagen], who had a great E3 Harelbeke, and Marcel Sieberg, they’re like dark horses for the race.”
Peiper argues that Flanders could be a very different race this year, not so much because of the unusually warm weather, but because of the changes in the route. “This year there’s a couple of cobbled sections and climbs before they hit the (first big challenge of the) Old Kwaremont. That’ll make it a very different race. At the moment, too, there’s no clear favorite at all, just a lot of very different contenders. I think it’s going to be one of the most open races of recent years.”
Team Columbia-Highroad's line-up for the 2009 Tour of Flanders: Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Nor); Marcus Burghardt (Ger); Bernhard Eisel (Aut); Bert Grabsch (Ger); George Hincapie (USA); Mark Renshaw (Spa); Vicente Reynes (Spa); Marcel Sieberg (Ger).