Tim Wellens abandons Giro d'Italia
Illness forces the stage winner to leave the race
Tim Wellens has extended his contract for two seasons and remains at Lotto Soudal at least till the end of 2020. The Belgian rider, who turns 27 during the upcoming Giro, is a product of the U23 team of Kurt Van de Wouwer and in 2012 he transferred to the pro team. The past years he gathered 20 victories, including two overall victories at Eneco Tour, Tour de Pologne, Tour of Guangxi, Ruta del Sol, Grand Prix de Montréal, Babantse Pijl and stages in Paris-Nice, Giro, Eneco Tour, Tour de Pologne and Tour of Guangxi.
Tim Wellens: “I love stability. For the first time in my career my contract was about to end and that creates the opportunity to listen to other teams, to hear what they have to offer. That flattered me, but I think I’m good here at Lotto Soudal and I want to be part of the plans that Paul De Geyter and Marc Sergeant have. I want to further develop myself. Of course the one-day Classics will be marked in my agenda the next years too because they suit me very well, but I also want to evolve in stage races of five to ten days. I think I still have the potential to become a better time trialist, and the team has agreed to further work on that aspect. Time trialling is crucial in many stage races.”
“I think I can be satisfied with my victories in Mallorca and Ruta del Sol, but especially with Paris-Nice and the four Ardennes races. After Liège-Bastogne-Liège I started preparing for the Giro, my only Grand Tour of the season. In that rather short time I try to do sufficient extensive trainings, but maybe I will have a lack of intensity at the start of the Giro. I hope to use the first stages to get some intensity and then I hope to be able to play along for stage wins afterwards, as I did in 2016. But also further down the season I have goals set: Tour de Suisse, Tour de Wallonie, Eneco Tour and the Canadian races.”
Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: “This is extremely good and important news. Tim is “our own product”, he was part of the U23 team of Kurt Van de Wouwer, who succeeds year after year in delivering talents for our team or other pro teams. Not every U23 rider can immediately set the step to WorldTour level, but many riders do make it to the highest level in the end. The Lotto Soudal U23 team is an example, nine Belgians in our WorldTour team were once riding for the U23 team.”
“Tim made a strong début as neo-pro, but he kept evolving year after year too. This season he has set a new step forward in the Classics and in one-week stage races he has proven to be able to play along for the prizes. And Paris-Nice isn’t just any stage race. In 2018 he also got a taste of the Flemish Classics, who knows that tastes for more in the future.”
“Tim is a perfect rider for a team as Lotto Soudal. A perfect Belgian, bilingual, a Flemish father and a Walloon mother, an attractive style of racing, a sensible guy with an opinion, who also pushes the team to a higher level,… Guys like him and Tiesj are riders who should be the foundation of our team the next years.”