Preview Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23


Next weekend proves to be a busy one for Lotto Soudal U23. On Saturday, Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23 is scheduled, while the Menen Classic takes place on Sunday. On Wednesday, the Tour de Loir et Cher has already begun, a five-day stage race in France. The first two stages have finished in a bunch sprint, in which Alfdan De Decker twice managed to take the fourth place. On Saturday, there is also another instalment of the UCI Nations’ Cup U23, the ZLM Tour U23. Gerben Thijssen will be part of the Belgian national team in this race.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23

One week ahead of the professional peloton, Lotto Soudal U23 will already ride Liège-Bastogne-Liège for espoirs. Saturday afternoon, there will be a successor for Bjorg Lambrecht, who won this race last year while riding for the Lotto Soudal U23 team. On the 175-kilometre course, the riders have to tackle some of the iconic climbs that are also part of the professional edition of La Doyenne, including the Côte de La Redoute, Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons and de Côte de Saint-Nicolas.

The team has prepared itself well on this race during the Circuit des Ardennes last weekend, in which Julian Mertens managed to finish tenth. The line-up remains nearly unchanged. Stan Dewulf replaces Aaron Van Poucke, who will participate in the Menen Classic on Sunday.

Line-up Lotto Soudal U23: Stan Dewulf, Kobe Goossens, Laurens Huys, Ward Jaspers, Harm Vanhoucke and Julian Mertens.

Sports director: Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Tour du Loir et Cher

This stage race has already started last Wednesday and finishes Sunday afternoon on a city circuit in the streets of Blois, where the opening stage started as well. Stage one and two were held on mainly flat courses and both stages ended in a bunch sprint. Alfdan De Decker nearly missed the podium on both occasions, by sprinting to two consecutive fourth places.

The third stage is also held on a flat course, although there is a gravel road of 600 metres, that the riders have to tackle three times on the local laps. In stage four, there are four climbs on the route between Bourré and Montrichard Val-de-Cher. The final stage is held on the city circuit in and around Blois. In this short stage, the riders will have to compelte thirteen laps of 7.5 kilometres.

Line-up Lotto Soudal U23: Jonas Castrique, Alex Colman, Alfdan De Decker, Sander De Pestel, Sébastien Grignard and Brent Van Moer.

Sports director: Dirk Aernouts

Menen Classic

This one-day race begins with fifteen kilometres, before heading to two local laps. The first local lap of twenty-five kilometres will be done four times. Afterwards, the peloton heads towards another local circuit of 11.5 kilometres, which is ridden three times.

Line-up Lotto Soudal U23: Ruben Apers, Loran Cassaert, Stijn Daemen, Arne Marit, Aaron Van Poucke, Ward Vanhoof and Jacob Vaughan.

Sports director: Wesley Van Speybroeck