Preview Flèche Wallonne
Mario Aerts, sports director at Lotto Soudal, talks about a race he won himself in 2002.
It is almost time for the Lotto Soudal riders to leave Australia behind but before they do so, there’s still one race left on Sunday 27 January. The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race will only be organised for the fifth time but has already become part of the WorldTour. During the 160 kilometres long race sprinters, climbers and rouleurs each have a shot at the victory. A lot will depend on how the race unfolds during the hilly local laps in Geelong. Caleb Ewan hopes to battle for the victory. Sports director Mario Aerts talks about Lotto Soudal’s race plan.
Caleb Ewan: “It’s definitely a race that we can win if the conditions are right. If it’s a race where everything goes to plan for me - and the other sprinters - it can end with a reduced bunch sprint. If that’s not the case, it can turn into a super hard race with maybe a climber winning. Obviously, the conditions and the way other teams race is out of our hands but I think we’ll give ourselves the best possible opportunity and then we’ll see how far into the race we can go. Hopefully it is going to be a little more negative than agressive racing.”
Mario Aerts: “Our plan is to deliver Caleb to the finish line in the best possible position. Of course, the race itself but also the weather conditions will decide if we will achieve that objective. The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is a race where Caleb can start with less pressure. Contrary to the Tour Down Under, where Caleb in the first place, hoped to get a win. But of course, a nice result is always welcome.”
“Previous editions have been won by strong fast guys (McCarthy, Arndt, Meersman) as well as punchers (Kennaugh). We know that Caleb can do well on a hilly course, he’s proven this last week and also last year. So we are confident about that. Our team also won’t have to take all the initiative. We won’t control a semi-Classic from start to finish. We will do everything to bring Caleb well-positioned in the finale and then we will have to hope for the best!”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Adam Blythe, Caleb Ewan, Thomas De Gendt, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Adam Hansen, Tomasz Marczyński and Rémy Mertz.
Sports director: Mario Aerts.