Team Novo Nordisk return to race on Belgian and Dutch roads next week at the oldest one-day race in Flanders, Scheldeprijs. The world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team will line up at the “sprinters classic” as it follows the newer parcours that crosses the border into the Netherlands before returning to Belgium for the finishing circuits in Schoten.
Semi local riders and neo-pro’s Matyas Kopecky and Robbe Ceurens are both set to feature at the 110th edition, with Kopecky fresh from a stellar debut at the recent Rhodes Tour that included an impressive third place in the sprint on stage two.
Versatile Italian sprinter Andrea Peron will lead the team with compatriot Umberto Poli and the experienced Irishman Stephen Clancy alongside him.
“Racing in Belgium during the classics period is always a special experience,” said General Manager Vassili Davidenko. “The atmosphere is great the routes are historic, and the level is very high. For our young riders like Matyas and Robbe this experience will be invaluable. They are both relatively local to the Flanders area and that should give them both an added boost.”
“Scheldeprijs is long, usually windy and almost completely flat with fast local circuits at the end, and with the recent wintry conditions in Northern Europe it, could make things interesting, but we will be motivated to do our best to look after Andrea and keep him as fresh and as sheltered as possible for what is normally a fast and hectic sprint finish.”
Australian rouleur Declan Irvine returns to a race that’s close to his heart after spending part of his junior racing career in Belgium and completes the team alongside Kiwi Hamish Beadle and will be looking to make a happy comeback to the Flanders roads.
“After making a positive start to my professional racing career at the Rhodes Tour,” began Kopecky. “I’m excited to be lining up at such a big race so close to home like Scheldeprijs. It’s going to be hard with the length, I haven’t raced 200 kilometers in a one-day event before, so the experience is going to be good for me and I hope to learn a lot racing against the big classic’s teams.”
“Scheldeprijs is of course a big race. The riders that are on the start line are always the guys I look up to when I am watching races on TV and I’m excited to be finally lining up to race against them. My form after the races on Rhodes is good and the climbs there definitely helped me in terms of condition, and I’d love to show myself as much as possible. But make no mistake, I know it will be tough, but I aim 100% to enjoy the experience.”
200 kilometers of windy racing will unfold across the Flanders borderlands as the race heads into the Zeeland province in the Netherlands before turning back into Belgium for the traditional closing circuits in Schoten, Antwerp.
Team Novo Nordisk at Scheldeprijs Wednesday 6th April:
Hamish Beadle (NZL, 23)
Robbe Ceurens (BEL,20)
Stephen Clancy (IRL, 29)
Declan Irvine (AUS, 22)
Matyas Kopecky (CZ, 19)
Andrea Peron (IT, 33)
Umberto Poli (IT, 25)
— Tim Lindley to www.teamnovonordisk.com