Lotto Soudal U23 prepares the new season in Spain
Just as the previous years, the U23 team has headed to Benicasim for a two-week training camp.
Today Kurt Van de Wouwer, head of the sports department of Lotto Soudal U23, looks back on the past season. The U23 team gathered 26 victories and a lot of other top results this season, but also had to deal with several injuries.
Last year Bjorg Lambrecht triumphed in the U23 version of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, this season the team won a Classic race again thanks to the victory of Stan Dewulf at Paris-Roubaix. Dewulf had already won a time trial and a stage in the Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux and later this year he also triumphed in a stage of the Tour of East-Flanders. Alfdan De Decker won three stages and the GC of the Tour of East-Flanders after he had obtained two stage victories in the Tour de Solidarité earlier in the season. At the end of February De Decker had won Brussels-Opwijk, the first race of the season. Gerben Thijssen collected three victories including the Belgian Road Championship. Aaron Van Poucke, good for four victories, obtained the last victory of the year at the Zandberg Classic in Harelbeke end of September.
Kurt Van de Wouwer: “The victory of Stan Dewulf in Paris-Roubaix end of May sticks out in terms of quality. Besides, it marked the end of a very good spring. Of course, the Belgian title of Gerben Thijssen in August is also one of our most beautiful moments this season. Alfdan De Decker, a pure sprinter, put a significant step forward last winter. He started the season with a victory in Brussels-Opwijk, our first race of the new season, and he was able to maintain his shape throughout the whole year. In July he won two stages in the Tour de Solidarité and as a trainee at Wanty - Groupe Gobert, he also did well in the last months of the season.”
“Besides the 26 victories, we also took a series of other top results. This year Stan Dewulf got second in the Tour de Bretagne, one of the most respected stage races of our programme. Not only U23 riders participate in that race, but also a small number of French professional teams with older guys in their ranks, so it was a great result. The silver medal of Brent Van Moer at the U23 World Time Trial Championship was unexpected. Beforehand the ambition was a top ten place but with his place on the podium he exceeded all expectations.”
“The past few years it is typical for our team that we perform strong in general. Sometimes the victories overshadow the other top results, but we certainly value them. Next year these guys can continue to develop further inside our team.”
“In the Lotto Top Competition, which consisted of five races, we got second this year after we won the team classification six years in a row. The many injuries have certainly played a role, ten of the twenty-five riders have been out for a longer period this season. Because we rode a triple programme at that moment, we participated in the first race with two riders less than was allowed. We couldn’t catch up the difference anymore in the following races. Arne Marit won the individual classification, which was a nice compensation.”