Tosh Van der Sande and Jelle Wallays ready for European Championship 2018
a mainly supportive role for the Lotto Soudal riders
Lotto Soudal rider Tosh Van der Sande won the final stage of the Tour de Wallonie today! On the ‘Mur de Thuin’, the 28-year-old Belgian powered to a solo victory, with an acceleration that was timed to perfection. Coquard and De Bondt completed the podium. After earlier stage success in the Tour de l’Ain, it is now the second pro victory of Tosh his career. Van der Sande concludes the Tour de Wallonie with a second place in the general classification, eight seconds behind overall winner Loïc Vliegen.
The closing stage of the Tour de Wallonie between Couvin and Thuin was scheduled today. With a triple ascent of the ‘Mur de Thuin’, today’s stage was one for the punchers. Five riders attacked in the first part of the race: Carisey, Reinders, Pacher, Petit and Taminiaux. The Frenchman Pacher dropped back to the bunch but the four remaining escapees fought hard against a chasing peloton. Eventually, the early breakaway was only caught right before the ultimate climb of the ‘Mur de Thuin’. At the foot of that steep hill, Nikolas Maes dictated a strong pace at the head of a strong-out peloton . It was the Frenchman Coquard who launched the first attack and took a slight advantage. However, a strong and smart Tosh Van der Sande timed his effort to perfection. He caught the Frenchman and left him behind to take his second professional victory of his career!
Tosh Van der Sande: “Of course, it feels great to take the win today. It has been a long time since the team rode at my service, all week long, and it is nice to reward them with a victory on the last day. To be honest, I did not feel great today but when we reached the local circuit, I had good sensations again. I have raced on this hill several times in the past, so I knew exactly what to do, but eventually the legs would do the talking.”
“There was quite some wind all day long. So, it was important not to be surprised by possible echelons, but eventually, it wasn’t much of an issue. During the entire stage, the pace was quite high so you would expect a setback from the escapees, but at a certain moment, I was also starting to get worried. Eventually, the advantage went down quite fast at the end.”
“The team did an amazing job in the final phase of the race. First, it was Stan Dewulf who led me to the crucial corner. Then, I found myself in fifth position and I told Nikolas Maes to go full gas; that way I could start the final climb in a perfect position. My experience taught me that I could make the difference on the final gentle slopes towards the finish line. Two years ago, I attacked on the cobbled section myself, but it was Dylan Teuns who counter-attacked and won. Now, I tried it the other way around and that turned out to be the perfect tactic. When I saw that Coquard wasn’t on my wheel anymore, it gave a real boost of course. I knew that the overall victory would be very difficult. To make up twelve seconds in one kilometre is a lot and eventually, I finish second in the general classification.”
“These performances give a lot of confidence towards the Clásica San Sebastián, where I will mainly ride at the service of the team. I think that the adapted course will be a little too hard for me, but I prepared myself really well for those kind of efforts, particularly towards the Vuelta.”