Jens Debusschere tells what he expects of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
Traditionally Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (28 February) is scheduled the day after the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. This year it’s the 68th edition of this second race of the Belgian opening weekend. The riders will have to cover 200.7 kilometres this time and conquer eleven hills.
After thirty kilometres the peloton will reach the first hill, the Edelareberg. Then small roads with many turns will lead the riders towards La Houpe and Kanarieberg. With about 100 kilometres to go there is another hill section with Hotond, Oude Kwaremont and Nokereberg. That last one is situated at about fifty kilometres from the end. Afterwards the riders pass the finish line a first time and then they have to cover two laps of about fifteen kilometres. At the end of the last lap it will probably be the sprinters who will fight for the victory.
André Greipel of Lotto Soudal won’t take the start, as he has a fractured rib after a crash in the Volta ao Algarve. The team can rely on among other Jens Debusschere and Jürgen Roelandts. They will compete against a bunch of fast men like Alexander Kristoff, Elia Viviani, Caleb Ewan, Nacer Bouhanni, Bryan Coquard and Peter Sagan. What does Jens Debusschere expect of the race?
Jens Debusschere: “I am not one hundred per cent sure that it will be a real bunch sprint at the end. It could be that teams like Etixx-QuckStep want to force things on the Oude Kwaremont for example and then create echelons. That’s definitely a possibility considering the weather forecast. That’s not a disadvantage for me. I will have to ride attentively at the front, but I’m capable of riding in echelons.”
“If the race does end with a sprint I have a strong team around me. Marcel Sieberg can’t start and that’s a pity. But there are other guys that know the course by heart and can steer very well, Sean De Bie to mention one. Jürgen Roelandts and Greg Henderson are perfect lead-outs for the sprint. My expectations are higher than last year. Then I finished seventh but I had hoped for more.”
“I feel like I have set a step forward compared to last year. I’m not the same Jens anymore as two years ago. Especially in the classics races I realize that something is possible and that I can battle for the victory. In the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad I never had a great feeling, but I think I will now start the opening weekend stronger than ever.”
“Now André Greipel can’t start I can have a go myself and I will do all I can to grab this chance with both hands. If something happens to me in the Omloop, mechanical problems or a bad day, I won’t do all I can to finish twenty-fifth for example. But that doesn’t mean I will already be thinking of Kuurne before either. I take it day by day and see what the weekend brings. With the team we have, we can do something great I’m sure of that.”
Team Lotto Soudal: Eleven riders have been selected, final roster will be revealed after the Omloop. The options: Lars Bak, Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, Gert Dockx, Frederik Frison, Greg Henderson, Pim Ligthart, Jürgen Roelandts, Tosh Van der Sande and Jelle Wallays.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.