Julie Van De Velde 7th in Valencia
Julie Van De Velde (25) will make her début at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad tomorrow. The Belgian rider began her cycling season last week in the four-day stage race Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. She conquered the seventh place on the third stage on Saturday 23 February. With the support of her teammates, Julie could also maintain her seventh position on GC during the last stage.
The third stage started in La Nucia and finished after 110 kilometres in Castalla on Xorret de Catí. The German rider Clara Koppenburg soloed to victory, 49 seconds ahead of Ashleigh Moolman. Soraya Paladin got third. Julie Van De Velde crossed the finish line 1’28” after the winner as seventh. The seventh place was also her position in the overall ranking one day later, at 1’42” of GC winner Koppenburg.
Julie Van De Velde: “I can only be very satisfied with my current shape. The feeling was good right from day one and that gave me confidence for the next stages. On the first stage there was a climb in the finale. I found it a pity that there weren’t any attacks uphill, because I felt like I had some energy left. But it wasn’t an option to set up a solo attack, because there was still a downhill section on the way to the finish and then the speed is higher in the bunch. The second day was a rather flat stage, which finished with a bunch sprint. I tried to save some energy that day, with the third stage in mind. We had done a recon of that stage with the team and so I knew it would be a hard day on Saturday.”
“In the beginning of the stage we rode on wide roads and I just tried to keep my position in the bunch without losing much energy and I made sure I ate and drank enough. With about sixty kilometres to go, we started climbing and the bunch got reduced. At the top of the climb there were about fifty riders left and as the pace remained high nobody managed to return to the peloton. Such a smaller group was perfect for me, because that made it easier to position on the narrow roads in the run-up to the last climb. When we started that climb, about 25 riders immediately rode away. I decided to maintain my own pace, so I wouldn’t force anything. I caught the riders in front of me one by one and I managed to move up to the seventh place. On the last day there was one climb on the course, but that was early on the stage. Afterwards there were many attacks and the speed was high. My teammates made sure I didn’t get in trouble and kept me at the front of the pack. It was wonderful how they supported me and I am very grateful for it.”
I will be happy each time I do better than last year.
Julie Van De Velde quit athletics and started cycling in 2017. Halfway down the season she transferred to the Lotto Soudal Ladies team. This will be her second full season at our team. Sports manager Dany Schoonbaert already told last week that he hoped that Julie would set a new step forward this year.
Julie Van De Velde: “I hadn’t expected to finish on top ten in Valencia. I surprised myself. I noticed on training that things were running smoothly, but it feels great to get confirmation in a race. I had a good winter, without illness or injury, and that way I could make some progress in the off-season. I was better on training camp than last year.”
“My next race is the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. It’s the first time I will participate in this race and I find it hard to predict my result. Last Wednesday I did a recon of the course. I expect it will be a hard race. The hills don’t scare me, but I hope that I manage riding over the cobbles too. Positioning will be very important. I will ride Strade Bianche next week. I hope to set a better result than last year (Julie got 39th at 12’48” of winner Anna van der Breggen, LTS). Strade Bianche is a WorldTour race and the level will be higher than in Valencia, but still I’m confident. In general, I want to prove this season that I made progress, without talking about specific results. I will be happy each time I do better than last year.”
Line-up Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Danique Braam, Alana Castrique, Dani Christmas, Thi That Nguyen, Puck Moonen and Julie Van De Velde.