2021 Gent-Wevelgem

Christophe Laporte, Tom Pidcock Amongst Underdogs For 2021 Gent-Wevelgem

Christophe Laporte, Tom Pidcock Amongst Underdogs For 2021 Gent-Wevelgem

The Belgian Classics season is in full swing, with the 83rd edition of Gent – Wevelgem this Sunday.

Mar 23, 2021 by Rebecca Reza
Gent-Wevelgem: Plugstreets Belong In Race

The Belgian Classics season is in full swing, with the 83rd edition of Gent – Wevelgem this Sunday. 

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The startlist is packed with classics specialists that will be marked for the win. While many eyes will be focused on the likes of Wout Van Aert, Sam Bennett, and the men of Trek – Segafredo, FloBikes has chosen a few dark horses to keep an eye on, as the peloton storms through the Flemish fields.  

Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-up Nation)

Sep Vanmarcke jokingly referred to his new team, Israel Start-Up Nation as one made up of ‘old blokes’ with teammates like Chris Froome, Daryl Impey, and André Greipel.  Experience is often a key factor in the one-day races, along with a bit of luck. 

The Belgian has finished second, twice at Gent-Wevelgem, most recently in 2016. He knows the course well, and his third place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad suggests he is on good form. Seldom one to miss a move, his consistent finishes displays his versatility and experience in the Classics. 

He will have a strong squad at the start line to support him, including Greipel, Rick Zabel, and Matthias Brändle.  


Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix)

Tim Merlier turned heads last week at Bredene Koksijde Classic, defeating former World Champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) in the sprint for his third win of this classics season. 

The team star, Matheiu Van Der Poel has chosen to skip Gent-Wevelgem, opening opportunities for Merlier to fight for victory on Sunday. His sprinting power will be an asset in the flat and fast finale, but his abilities will be tested on the hilly circuits. 

 


Arnaud Démare (Groupama – FDJ)

The Frenchman enjoyed a stellar season in 2020 with 14 wins, capping it off with a dominating win in the points classification at the Giro d’Italia. He skipped the one-day races, but returned to Belgium in 2021 with a lack luster performance at Kuurne – Bruxelles – Kuurne, crossing the line just inside the top 40.  

As he stated before the start of Milan – Sanremo last week, “Anything is possible.” He notched two second place finishes in the opening of Tour de la Provence behind Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck – Quick Step), and the opening stage of Paris-Nice behind Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick Step). He will have Stefan Küng to support him, along with Kevin Geniets who secured a top-ten finish at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month. 


Pascal Ackerman (BORA – Hansgrohe) 

Pascal Ackerman will be leading the squad for Sunday’s Gent –Wevelgem, after Peter Sagan opted to skip the race, as he continues to build form after recovering from Covid-19. Aackermann has yet to notch a victory this season, but had a good showing at Milan - Sanremo where he finished in the top 20. 

BORA - Hansgrohe is off to a good start in stage races after successfully defending Max Schchmann's Paris-Nice title. The German team would like to see Ackermann rise to the occasion in the classics while Sagan remains absent. Ackermann will be supported by Marcus Burghardt, himself a winner at Gent-Wevelgem in 2007, and Daniel Oss. 


Thomas Pidcock (Team INEOS)

The Team INEOS neo-pro Tom Pidcock has enjoyed a stellar launch to his road racing career, after several impressive finishes including a podium spot at Kuurne – Bruxelles –Kuurne, and a top five finish at Strade Bianche. The British rider had been nursing a touch of tendinitis in his knee that hampered his preparation for Milan – Sanremo.  He seems to have found his form again, finishing 15th in his debut at the monument.  


Christophe Laporte (Cofidis)

Christophe Laporte had a head-turning performance at Paris-Nice, with several difficult top-ten finishes. Laporte is expected to lead the squad for Cofidis this Sunday. The Frenchman won the opening stage at Étoile de Bessèges, besting his rival, Nacer Bouhanni, and Mads Pedersen. Cofidis will also line up with former second place finisher Elia Viviani at Gent-Wevelgem.