Caleb Ewan sprints to maiden Tour de France stage victory!
Second stage victory for Lotto Soudal at the Tour!
When one says Flèche Wallonne, you immediately think about the Mur de Huy. Also this year, the riders have to conquer the steep climb three times, where the victory will be at stake during the ultimate ascent. Lotto Soudal has with Bjorg Lambrecht, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens multiple cards to play.
Last year, Lotto Soudal had two riders in the top ten of the Flèche Wallonne. Finishing third, Jelle Vanendert could step on the podium alongside Alaphilippe and Valverde. Teammate Tim Wellens took seventh place. Moreover, Lotto Soudal has with Bjorg Lambrecht - who finished sixth in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race – another trump card. Mario Aerts, sports director at Lotto Soudal, talks about the race he won himself in 2002.
Mario Aerts: “Of course, there is a big chance that the typical reduced bunch sprint on the Mur de Huy will once again take place, but a scenario in which some escapees battle for the victory can certainly not be ruled out. Last year for example, Schachmann could just not stay ahead, due to Jelle Vanendert leading the chase at the head of the peloton. The local laps during the finale have not been changed. However, the first part of the race was slightly altered but that’s not where the danger lies. Anticipating the final climb of the Mur de Huy will especially be possible during the two local laps, in which three climbs are included, so it can happen on every ascent. In the run-up to the Mur de Huy, positioning is of crucial importance, moving up on the steep slopes is a waste of energy.”
“It is a luxury that three riders (Bjorg Lambrecht, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens) will spearhead Lotto Soudal on Wednesday. We have our plan ready, but how much that will be converted into reality always depends on how the race unfolds. Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens have already proven that such kinds of finishes suits them very well. Moreover, Bjorg Lambrecht is also fast on tough finishes, but he hasn’t done something like the Mur de Huy before. It’s all new for him. We also had to wait and see if he would survive the 250-kilometre mark in the Amstel Gold Race. It is one big journey of discovery for Bjorg and that won’t be different coming Wednesday and Sunday.”
“Sander Armée, Tomasz Marczyński, Maxime Monfort and Tosh Van der Sande will serve the team, something they all are very good at. In an ideal scenario, some Lotto Soudal riders will still be able to help the leaders in the very finale. I won Flèche Wallonne myself in 2002 and I already gave my tips and tricks to riders such as Jelle Vanendert in the past. Now, I can pass on my experience to Bjorg Lambrecht and also Jelle shares his knowledge with the teammates.”
“I expect most of the guys that were up there during the Amstel Gold Race to be at front in the Flèche Wallonne as well. Valverde had a bad day Sunday but you should never write him off. There are also Alaphilippe, Kwiatkowski and Daniel Martin to keep an eye on. I also expect riders such as Matthews and Schachmann to play their role.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Bjorg Lambrecht, Tomasz Marczyński, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Herman Frison.