Omloop Het Nieuwsblad kicks off 2021 racing season
February 26, 2021
The 2021 season has arrived! Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank starts its European spring campaign this Saturday, February 27, with the official opener to the spring classics - Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad's 126km race route will mirror the 2020 version. The event begins in Ghent, Belgium, and travels across five cobbled sections and ten climbs before its conclusion in Ninove.
"Although not a WWT race, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad has always been a fiercely contested race," team director Rachel Hedderman said. "This year as the season opener, I am sure we will see all the big hitters in form as the teams look to kick off their season, and so I am excited to see us compete with the best."
From left to right: Diana Penuela, Kristen Faulkner and Leah Dixon take a break from training to enjoy the Belgian sunshine.
Next up is Le Samyn des Dames on March 2. This year, the 92.5 km race, from Quaregnon to Dour, Belgium, has moved up to UCI 1.1 category, attracting top-notch competition to the Walloon Region's cobbled roads.
"Even though I got a taste of the "spring" classics last fall, this will be my first time racing Nieuwsblad, Le Samyn, and Strade, so I'm excited to race in these events," Kristen Faulkner said. "My focus will be on maintaining my position in the peloton, since the courses here are more technical and narrow than in the U.S.
"Having raced in Belgium in the fall, I feel a lot more confident riding on cobbles and in a pro peloton, but with World Tour teams competing, the race is going to be challenging and exciting. More than anything, I'm excited to race with my new teammates and see how we all work together."
Lauren Stephens competes in last year's Strade Bianche, which was held in October.
Faulkner (USA) will start Nieuwsblad and Le Samyn with teammates Leah Dixon (GBR), Eva Buurman (NED), Tanja Erath (GER), Diana Peñuela (COL), and Eri Yonamine (JPN). Lauren Stephens (USA) will join Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank for the hotly contested Strade Bianche on March 6, which kicks off the Women's WorldTour.
Strade Bianche's 136km loop, which starts in the Tuscan city of Siena, includes eight challenging gravel sectors peppered in between short, but steep, climbs before finishing on the Piazza del Campo.
"We're really looking forward to getting the racing started and picking up from where we left off at the end of last season in what was a condensed but successful season for us," Hedderman said. "For these first races we have a mix of returning riders and new riders to the team, and I'm excited to see the team working together."
How to watch
All three races will be live streamed via GCN Race Pass.
February 27 - Omloop Het Nieuwsblad at 7:40 a.m. PST
March 2 - Le Samyn des Dames at 5:00 a.m. PST
March 6 - Strade Bianche at 3:00 a.m. PST.