Benoot and Keukeleire ready for Paris-Roubaix
On Sunday 14 April, the riders will take on the mighty cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.
Gent-Wevelgem often is a spectacular race due to the notorious Plugstreets, the Kemmelberg as a decisive climb and possible strong winds. After starting in Deinze and a detour via Veurne and De Moeren, the riders subsequently arrive in the hill zone in the south of West Flanders. Despite the ten climbs and the course of 251.1 kilometres to be covered, it regularly comes down to a sprint in Wevelgem. Last year, Peter Sagan clinched his third win. Jens Keukeleire, second in 2017, gives his view on the 81st edition.
Jens Keukeleire: “This will be my third WorldTour race in five days, so that is a rapid succession. The E3 Harelbeke was an intense race, but we had beautiful weather conditions. I experienced Brugge-De Panne as a bit more peaceful, until my hard crash. Luckily, I recovered well from this and I could do major efforts again on Friday. The fact that I was still present until the actual finale began, is a good sign. On the decisive moment, I was not able to follow though, which gave me mixed feelings.”
“Gent-Wevelgem probably is the spring race that fits me the most of all. It is also to my advantage that I know the course perfectly, because this region is a regular training route. Besides, the profile enables to have some rest between the various hills, which makes the race less aggressive. During the last few editions, it was an elimination until the second time Kemmelberg. I have always had a good feeling here, even when echelons were formed.”
“More wind is predicted on Sunday. That is a factor which could make the race exhausting for the helpers and the sprinters, causing them to arrive less fresh in the hill zone. It would surprise me if a large group will sprint for the victory. Ideally for me, about twenty riders remain after the Kemmelberg and then the difference could be made. Tiesj Benoot and I would like it if the pace is kept really high all the time. Nikolas Maes is very important to the team as well. He is in excellent shape and that is why I believe he should be capable to top the Kemmelberg along with the best riders.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Adam Blythe, Frederik Frison, Jens Keukeleire, Nikolas Maes, Lawrence Naesen and Brian van Goethem.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.
Gent-Wevelgem probably is the spring race that fits me the most of all.