Sports director Mario Aerts explains Vuelta line-up
A team of attackers will aim for stage success.
Only a week has passed since the Tour de France came to an end, but the next World Tour race is already here. On Saturday 3 August, the hilly Clásica San Sebastián is scheduled. Quite some riders who rode the Tour de France will head to the Spanish Basque Country to see their good shape confirmed. Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens are the Lotto Soudal leaders, says sports director Frederik Willems.
Frederik Willems: “For the first time in a while, the course has been slightly adapted, compared to previous years. In the past, the peloton had to climb the Jaizkibel and the Arkale each lap. Now, the Arkale has been removed and the Jaizkibel is only climbed once. Instead, some new hills make their appearance, with the Murgil-Tontorra, the steep climb with gradients up to 22 percent - probably as the decisive climb. In the past, this hill was only faced once, now two times. That could possibly change the race.”
“I expect that the same big names will battle it out. It are almost always the riders who have good legs in the Tour de France, who ride well at the Clásica San Sebastián. In my opinion, those riders are sufficiently recovered and will make the race, but we always have to await whether there will be a surprise.”
“Until the first time the Murgil-Tontorra, we will try to move along and to be protected at the front with riders like Tosh Van der Sande or Jelle Vanendert. When the finale approaches, Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens will need to take control, because they are our leaders. The rest of the team will support them as best they can and will try to prevent us from having to race defensively.”
“Usually, a puncher with good descending skills wins the race. Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens also have those qualities. They both know the descent and even possible wet roads should not prevent them from being at the front. Our goal is to have at least one of the two in the decisive group that will sprint for the victory.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Jens Keukeleire, Rémy Mertz, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports director: Frederik Willems.