Terpstra previously won the race in 2016, and Gilbert took the top prize in 2008 while riding for FDJ. Both riders competed in the opening Belgium weekend this year, with Gilbert finishing fifth in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and then taking Sunday off, while Terpstra played a support role in both Omloop and Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Stybar finished 20th in Omloop and also took Sunday off.
Tuesday’s race, 200km from Quaregnon to Dour, features four short-but-steep climbs – Côte de Mainvault, Côte de la Folie, Côte des Papins and Côte de Semenil – before the peloton reaches the final circuit, which riders will cover four times. Four cobbled sections, Rue du Vert Pignon (1,400m), Côte de la Roquete (500m), Chemin de Wiheries (400m) and Rue de Belle Vue (700m), will further break up the peloton from there.
Joining Terpstra, Gilbert and Stybar in the race will be Tim Declercq, Fabio Jakobsen, Davide Martinelli and Florian Sénéchal.
“Florian, who despite being new on the squad, already proved this year what a talented rider he is, together with Tim, Davide and Fabio, will support our guys in this race, which on top of having a demanding course will be made hard also by the weather,” said team director Tom Steels.
“With temperatures below zero degrees and a strong wind coming from the north, it will be very tough out there, but we will try to leave our mark on this beautiful race,” Steels said.
Quick-Step Floors for Le Samyn: Tim Declercq, Philippe Gilbert, Fabio Jakobsen, Davide Martinelli, Florian Sénéchal, Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra