De Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders)

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Josh Gates

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  • De Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders)

De Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders)

The De Ronde van Vlaanderen, commonly known as the Tour of Flanders is just around the corner to take place on Sunday, 3 April, 2011. The van Vlaanderen is considered one of the hardest races on the World Tour making it the most important race, the second monument of cycling this season, to be held in Belgium.

A total number of 200 riders from 25 teams across the globe are expected to take part in the single-day event starting from the medieval city square in Brugge. However, the 30-year-old Leopard Trek team cyclist from Switzerland, Fabian Cancellara is the most speculated to defend his title from last year and the hands down favorite for this year.

Cancellara had a tremendous start of the season and bringing the confidence of his E3 Prijs victory in Harelbeke last weekend. He had been practicing for the race on his home-soil for the whole week and sounded quite determined to meet the event with the zeal to defend his crown.

“To come here as strong as I’m feeling and to be defending champion and number one favourite has not always happened, but I’m ready for that, the world knows I’m strong and the world knows I’m ready, so why should I step back.” Cancellara responded at a press conference in the city of Kortrijk by Leopard Trek about his confidence landing in Belgium.

Cancellara has proven his strength on the way of becoming an established cobbled classic specialist and the last weekend’s victory. Last week, despite of having a set-back of a punctured tire, the Swiss cyclist crossed the finish-line in the best possible manner, “with no one else in the picture” two minutes ahead of the runner-up. This indeed would have implanted quite bit of concern to his rivals like the 2005 Flanders-Roubaix double winner Boonen on his home-soil.

Jonathan Vaughters, the Leopard Trek team manager was quite optimistic about his rider’s current form and claimed it much hard for others to topple Cancellara saying: “We may have the strongest team, but we don’t have the strongest rider. It’s tough, when Fabian is riding like he is. I don’t know, maybe I should hire a sniper.”

In other riders under the spot-light, Philippe Gilbert of the Omega Pharma team is among side the outside favorites. Gilbert is known to be one of the Belgium’s most consistent single-day race cyclists. He holds to his name the recent Montepaschi Strade Bianche title and also clawed to the podium at the Milan-San Remo this year. His performance had him stage victories at both Algarve and Tirreno-Adriatico making him quite suited to be one in the top contenders for the Sunday’s event.

Yet still, the single-day race could never be effected by the prior performances but psychologically. The 260 kilometer track shall be the decider for the Sunday’s major event, the De Ronde van Vlaanderen.