Bjorg Lambrecht as top contender to U23 World Championships
This Friday, Bjorg Lambrecht will be at the starting line of the U23 road race. As the course suits the 21-year-old Belgian nicely, he is considered as one of the top favorites for the rainbow jersey. Lambrecht rode an excellent Vuelta, which gave him the right amount of confidence to start the road race in Kufstein. From there, a 180 kilometres long course awaits the Lotto Soudal rider till the finish in Innsbruck - the famous Gnadenwald climb and four tough local laps included. Lambrecht will be supported by, among others, teammate Brent Van Moer, who already conquered the silver medal at the U23 time trial last Monday.
Bjorg Lambrecht: “I’m convinced the Belgian team is really strong. With Brent Van Moer, Steff Cras, Kenny Molly and Viktor Verschaeve we have riders who know their way around on the flat as well as on the more steep parts. Because of my status as a top contender, the other teams will be watching us the whole time and won’t be giving us much space. With guys like Eenkhoorn, Hirschi, Padun and Sosa, there are several other strong riders at the starting line, which will make it a fascinating, but definitely not an easy race. Considering the course and our strong team, we are capable of making it a tough race from the very beginning. We’ll give it our all and try to achieve the best result possible, no matter what.”
“Best-case scenario, we leave some contenders for the world title behind us or try to approach the finish line with a smaller group. The climbing will definitely see some riders drop. There are already steep parts in the run-up towards the local laps, where the first breakaway might be formed. For us, it will be better if everything’s still together and the battle for the break is still on before entering the local circuit. It would be nice if we could break away from the main bunch with a small group or reduce the bunch severely. The more riders that can’t keep up the pace, the easier for us to take control of the race. I hope to benefit from the fact that I did somewhat more kilometres with the pros than the other U23 riders. Hopefully, I can start the finale with better legs and get the chance to escape with a few other riders. If my legs are great throughout the whole race, I can definitely achieve a nice result. However, the World Championships are always something special and everything has to fall into place, but I trained hard for it and am ready to give my all.”
“My shape was really good in the Vuelta. The first week was hard to adapt to the extreme temperatures, but afterwards I felt much stronger. I listened to sports director Mario Aerts when he told me to target specific stages, which saw me finishing in the top ten twice. That fourth place was beyond expectations: I would have been happy to finish in the top ten, but I took fourth place with some big names behind me. After my preparation in Spain, I took part in several other races to stay in shape.”
“I don’t necessarily feel pressure to live up to my status as top favorite, but of course, it’s normal to feel a bit nervous - on a healthy way though. For the moment, it’s really important to be as relaxed as possible and to stay focused. The season is coming to an end, but I’ve been training for a long time for these championships, so I’m still very motivated. It would be great to take the rainbow jersey home or finish on the podium. For sure, I will be disappointed if I would lose. However, that ‘defeat’ won’t mark my whole season. The team has given me great opportunities throughout the year and I was able to achieve some nice results as well. Before the start of this season, I could never have imagined a season like the one I had so far! So, I can definitely look back on a good season - whether I win the world title or not.”
I hope to benefit from the fact that I did somewhat more kilometres with the pros than the other U23 riders.