Preview Flèche Wallonne
Mario Aerts, sports director at Lotto Soudal, talks about a race he won himself in 2002.
This month, Lotto Soudal will line up at several 1.1 and 1.HC races on Belgian soil. The team will participate in eight races, starting with Desselgem Koerse on September 11 and finishing on September 27 with La DH Famenne Ardenne Classic. This week, there are also the Grand Prix de Wallonie (Wednesday), Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen in Koolskamp (Friday), Primus Classic Impanis - Van Petegem (Saturday) and Grote Prijs Jef Scherens in Leuven (Sunday). One week later, Lotto Soudal makes an appearance at the Omloop van het Houtland in Lichtervelde and de Tour de l’Eurométropole before concluding the series of one-day events with la DH Famenne Ardenne Classic. Each year, Lotto Soudal competes for victory in these one-day races and already took many first places in the previous years. Sports director Kurt Van De Wouwer comments on the Europe Tour races and line-ups.
Kurt Van De Wouwer, sports director Lotto Soudal: “As a Belgian team, we automatically attach great importance to these races. Each year, we are really motivated to participate and eager to win as some races, like the Grand Prix de Wallonie, are well-known semi-classics. Last year, Tim Wellens was able to win this GP and Lotto Soudal finished with several riders inside the top ten. We were also able to win the race in previous editions with, amongst other, Jens Debusschere and Tony Gallopin. Therefore, you can see Lotto Soudal several times on the list with previous winners.”
“Wellens will be our outspoken leader in Wallonia this Wednesday. He proved to be in good shape last weekend in Canada, but unfortunately, had to deal with some misfortune. It won’t be easy to win as Tim is the favourite and will be targeted by the other contenders. We have to see where we could launch the first attack as we don’t necessarily have to wait till the final climb. The finish is at the top of the Citadelle de Namur, but there are already some tough ascents earlier in the stage, like the Tienne aux Pierres at ten kilometres from the finish line. If we don’t want to wait until the climb of the Citadel, we could opt to start our battle earlier, for example on the Tienne aux Pierres.”
“André Greipel will be our outspoken leader at Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen on Friday and Primus Classic on Saturday. Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen is a race with several local laps, a flat course, and therefore a race for pure sprinters. The Primus Classic, or GP Impanis - Van Petegem, is somewhat harder to predict. A few years ago, we managed to win the race with Sean de Bie, who was able to escape the peloton at the end. So, it’s not certain that the race will definitely finish in a bunch sprint. Yet, Lotto Soudal will play the card of André Greipel as he proved to be in very good shape, winning two stages in the Tour of Britain. If his legs are good and he’s feeling well, the team will be riding for André, without a doubt.”
“The GP Jef Scherens - Rondom Leuven is quite an unpredictable race as well. The riders have to cover thirteen local laps, including two ascents per lap, making it a tough race. Sometimes, the GP concludes with a bunch sprint, but most of the time we see splits in the peloton towards the end. Therefore, we take part in the race with a versatile team, with riders like Bjorg Lambrecht and Jelle Vanendert, but also with riders like Jasper De Buyst. We’ll have to wait and see how well Jelle has recovered from his crash in the Tour of Britain before deciding whether or not he’ll also be riding the GP this Sunday. Our trainee Stan Dewulf will probably take part in two races this week as well. He recently finished third overall in the Tour of South Bohemia with the U23 team, so he’s back in shape after his injury of this summer. If we’re not heading to a race with an outspoken leader, Stan and other riders of the team will be given the opportunity to take their chance as well.”
Line-ups Lotto Soudal:
Tuesday 11 September 2018: Desselgem Koerse – Memorial Briek Schotte: Jasper De Buyst, Stan Dewulf, Frederik Frison, Lawrence Naesen, Marcel Sieberg and Enzo Wouters.
Wednesday 12 September 2018 Grand Prix de Wallonie: Jens Debusschere, Moreno Hofland, Jens Keukeleire, Lawrence Naesen, Marcel Sieberg, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Friday 14 september 2018 Koolskamp - Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen (subject to any changes): Stan Dewulf, Frederik Frison, André Greipel, Moreno Hofland, Nikolas Maes, Lawrence Naesen, Marcel Sieberg and Enzo Wouters.
Saturday 15 september 2018 Primus Classic, GP Impanis – Van Petegem (subject to any changes): Jens Debusschere, Jasper De Buyst, Stan Dewulf, Frederik Frison, André Greipel, Moreno Hofland and Marcel Sieberg.
Sunday16 september 2018 GP Jef Scherens – Leuven (subject to any changes): Jens Debusschere, Jasper De Buyst, Jens Keukeleire, Bjorg Lambrecht, Lawrence Naesen, Jelle Vanendert and Harm Vanhoucke.