It’s late February, which means the Classics are here. Northern California’s Team TIBCO will kick off its first European tour of the season this Saturday February 23 with the cobbled Flandrian classic, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Team TIBCO sends a five-rider squad including European racing veterans Shelley Olds (USA), Claudia Hausler (GER), and Chantal Blaak (NED). U.S. U23 National Champion Samantha Schneider will be returning to Europe for 2013, joined by her teammate Rushlee Buchanan (NZL).
“These Spring classics in Belgium are typical for their cold and bad weather, narrow and technical roads, pave and short, steep climbs,” said Team TIBCO directeur sportif Manel Lacambra. “The races are very hard and technical but in our team we have good riders for it.”
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will take the riders through 125 kilometers of jarring cobbled sections and steep climbs characteristic of the Belgian countryside. The UCI 1.2 category classic will begin late Saturday morning, starting and finishing in the city of Ghent. The Spring opener will feature many of the same climbs used in the Tour of Flanders and is sure to be hotly contested.
“Our Dutch rider Chantal Blaak especially loves to ride in the pave,” said Lacambra. “With her and the rest of the team we will try to have some good results racing for the win.”
Later in the week, on February 27, Team TIBCO will head to the Belgian-French border to the town of Frameries for another UCI one-day race: Le Samyn des Dames. Canadian Olympian Jasmin Glaesser will join the team after competing at the UCI Track World Championships, where she earned a bronze medal with the Women’s Team Pursuit squad Thursday.
Over 170 riders and 26 teams will take to the cobbled roads for the 119.2-kilometer race from Frameries to Dour. The course features two distinct sections. The first 38.8 kilometers are gently rolling and smooth as the riders depart from Frameries. As the race enters the town of Dour, the riders will approach a 20.1-kilometer clockwise circuit for 4 laps. A 700 meter cobbled ascent to the finish will make for a fast race as the riders jockey for position in the closing kilometers.
On March 3, the riders will take on Omloop van het Hageland – the third of the Spring Belgian classics. The race will start and finish in Tielt, a small town around 35 kilometers west of Ghent, Belgium.
“With these first races we will finish building our form and this will get us ready for the coming weeks when we will race the first two World Cups.”
For more information on Saturday’s race, visit: https://www.omloophetnieuwsblad.be/en
Photo © Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com