Who will be writing history in Wevelgem this year?
Ypres once again receives the riders for their race through Flanders Fields on Sunday 26 March. We will be looking for the successor to Biniam Girmay in Wevelgem. With Van Aert, Pedersen and De Lie, among others, the provisional list of participants throws up a great many challengers for Girmay.
Last year, Biniam Girmay made cycling history in Wevelgem by becoming the first African rider ever to win a spring classic. This year, the Eritrean will be defending the colours of Intermarché - Circus - Wanty. He can count on the support of Mike Teunissen, who moved across from Wout van Aert's team in the winter.
That team is undoubtedly one of Girmay's biggest challengers. Jumbo-Visma, which has already demonstrated its strength in depth, travels to Ypres in support of Van Aert and includes Laporte and the quick Kooij, who recently won a sprint stage in Paris-Nice. One of the other winners in Paris-Nice was Belgian champion Merlier. He is joined at Soudal Quick-Step by the likes of Lampaert and former Tour of Flanders winner Asgreen.
Another quick Belgian to look out for rides for Lotto Dstny. There, Arnaud De Lie forms a duo with Caleb Ewan. With Jasper Philipsen, Alpecin-Deceuninck also has a quick Belgian up its sleeve. Philipsen is joined by Søren Kragh Andersen, who finished fifth last year.
Someone who showed up in the bunch sprint in Paris-Nice is former winner Mads Pedersen. The Dane is looking for his second win in Wevelgem and forms a block with Jasper Stuyven, fourth last year. We also find former winner Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) and Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) on the provisional list of participants.
Total Energies are counting on Dries Van Gestel, third last year, who is joined by former winners Boasson Hagen and Sagan. Another former winner can be found at AG2R Citroën Team, which is bringing Oliver Naesen to Ypres alongside Greg Van Avermaet. Another Belgian name starting is Sep Vanmarcke (Israel - Premier Tech). Vanmarcke has never won in Wevelgem, but has twice finished second.
UAE Team Emirates is sending Tim Wellens to Ypres as debutant. He can count on the experience of quick men Pascal Ackermann and Matteo Trentin, who finished third in 2020 and 2021 and is starting for the eleventh time this year. Team Jayco Alula believes in the quick legs of Dylan Groenewegen. He is joined by a specialist in Flemish one-day races, Zdenek Stybar, who, after 12 years with the same team, has found a new home elsewhere.
A few more quick men complete the provisional list of participants. The Astana Qazaqstan Team is sending former world champion Mark Cavendish to Ypres. Groupama - FDJ can count on the sprinting of Arnaud Démare. The Frenchman has previously finished second in Wevelgem. And Bora-hansgrohe can also reckon on some quick legs with the Irishman Sam Bennett.
We will see who ultimately is the fastest on the Vanackerestraat in Wevelgem on Sunday 26 March at around 16:50. Discover the provisional start list here.