A team of six Great Britain under-23 riders have been selected for the Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften on Saturday 11 April.
An in-form Owain Doull will be supported by Jon Dibben, Scott Davies, Chris Latham, Chris Lawless and Gabriel Cullaigh for the first of the 2015 UCI Under 23 Nations’ Cup events, ridden by national rather than trade teams a week after the elite edition of the Flandrian monument.
Beloften is Dutch for ‘promise’, with good reason; the race attracts the cream of the up-and-coming European road talent.
Owain Doull approaches the race in excellent form after finishing second overall at the Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux stage race in Belgium in early April. The 21-year-old from Cardiff also won the points jersey and will be hungry to improve on his 2014 Flanders performance which saw him narrowly miss out of the podium, finishing fourth.
Doull’s Triptyque triumph came after a strong ride in March’s Tour de Normandie, where he scored top-ten finishes in the general classification and points standings.
Jon Dibben rode the Tour de Normandie but failed to finish the final stage. The 21-year-old track specialist began the Triptyque alongside Doull but crashed in the neutralised zone on stage one and after being further delayed, was disqualified by race officials.
Nineteen-year-old Scott Davies had a great start to his road season for Great Britain, taking second in the youth classification at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, enough to earn him a top ten finish overall.
Davies rode for Great Britain at the Triptyque but was forced to withdraw on the final stage after a being brought down by a race vehicle.
Christopher Latham supported Doull’s podium ambition at the Triptyque and rode the Scheldeprijs under-23 event on Wednesday 8 April.
Chris Lawless has already tasted action in the Herald Sun Tour and Tour de Normandie with Great Britain, with Gabriel Cullaigh riding Scheldeprijs and impressing road manager Keith Lambert in the build-up to Flanders.
"Gabz is going particularly strongly so he'll do a good job for Doull. I'm confident of that and it gives him that look at it for the future," said Lambert.
"Owain feels he's going better than he was last year when he won Triptyque.
"I'm pretty confident really. (Chris) Latham's going particularly well - I think he'll do a good job. (Chris) Lawless will, he's committed himself. Gabz (Cullaigh) will and certainly Scott Davies will.
"We wanted Scott (Davies) in it because he's probably the one who can get over the Koppenberg with Owain at the end."
The Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften is the first round of the UCI Nations’ Cup for under-23 riders, which sees national teams compete for overall honours over six events from April to August.
After Flanders the series continues with La Cote Picarde, the ZLM Roompot Tour, the Course de la Paix and the Trofee Lamar before culminating with the Tour de l’Avenir in August.
Riders will face a 176.6-kilometre parcours starting and finishing in Oudenaarde, the finish town of the elite men’s event the previous weekend.
The route features 14 climbs of some of Flanders’ famous ‘bergs’, including the Taainberg, Eikenberg and Koppenberg ascents from the UCI World Tour event.
The race starts with a long anti-clockwise loop from Oudenaarde, before heading back to the town for two berg-packed finishing loops, the latter taking in the famous cobbled ramp of the Koppenberg.
How to follow
- Report, results and reaction will appear on the British Cycling website
- Go to the Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften website for further news and information
Great Britain Cycling Team for the 2015 Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften