Preview Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne
DS Frederik Willems about a race he has won himself.
On Sunday 10 March, Lotto Soudal will be at the start of the 77th edition of Paris-Nice, an eight-day WorldTour race in which the peloton rides through the diverse French sceneries. With sprinter Caleb Ewan - who will ride the ‘Race to the Sun’ for the first time - Lotto Soudal is hunting for a sprint victory. The Australian will be well-supported by Jasper De Buyst, Adam Hansen, Roger Kluge and Nikolas Maes. During the hillier stages, the team can count on Thomas De Gendt - last year’s winner of the mountain classification - and Maxime Monfort. Herman Frison, sports director at Lotto Soudal - clarifies the team’s ambitions.
Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “In the past, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico were only regarded as races to prepare for Milan - San Remo, the first Monument of the season. Nowadays, these first European stage races imply the first clash between the world’s best riders. It will be full gas racing and also within our team - after a solid start to the season - everybody is motivated to give their all.”
“Paris-Nice starts with three - maybe even four - stages that can result in a bunch kick. On day five, there is an individual time trial and that’s where the battle for the general classification begins. Afterwards, three tough stages are scheduled. Especially the penultimate stage - finishing on the fifteen kilometres long Col de Turini - will be decisive for the overall.”
“Tim Wellens - who already rode Paris-Nice several times – now chose for Tirreno-Adriatico because he thinks that the Col de Turini might be a little too hard for him in the pursuit of a good overall result. That way, we deliberately decided to fully go for a stage win - in the first place with our sprinter Caleb Ewan - instead of targeting a nice place on GC. For the Australian, the race means the ultimate preparation towards Milan - San Remo, the first big goal of his season. It will be his debut in the French stage race this year. In the past, he frequently participated in the Tirreno but because there are at least three possible sprint stages, we opted for Paris-Nice. Caleb Ewan is the kind of rider that needs to be brought in a good position in the run-up to the sprint. With Nikolas Maes, Roger Kluge and Jasper De Buyst, we have the perfect riders to do so.”
“During the final three stages, the more offensive riders within our line -up such as Thomas De Gendt and Maxime Monfort, but also Adam Hansen, will have the opportunity to show themselves. They have to try to join breakaways in order to aim for a stage win. The mountain classification - which he won last year - can again become a goal for Thomas this year, but in the first place, a sprint victory prevails. Afterwards, we will evaluate the possibilities day by day because most mountain points are to be gained the last three days.”
We fully aim for a stage win, in the first place with our sprinter Caleb Ewan.
Stage 1 Sunday 10 March: Saint-Germain-en-Laye – Saint-Germain-en-Laye (138.5 km)
Stage 2 Monday 11 March: Bréviaires – Bellegarde (163.5 km)
Stage 3 Tuesday 12 March: Moulins – Yzeure (200 km)
Stage 4 Wednesday 13 March: Vichy – Pélussin (212 km)
Stage 5 Thursday 14 March: Barbentane – Barbentane (ITT) (25.5 km)
Stage 6 Friday 15 March: Peynier – Brignoles (176.5 km)
Stage 7 Saturday 16 March: Nice – Col de Turini (La Bollène-Vésubie) (181.5 km)
Stage 8 Sunday 17 March : Nice – Nice (110 km)
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Caleb Ewan, Adam Hansen, Roger Kluge, Nikolas Maes and Maxime Monfort.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.