What's Cool In Road Cycling

Jef Van Meirhaeghe is Belgian U23 champion

After the Belgian national title with the pros (Jens Debusschere) and women (Jolien D’hoore) Lotto Belisol now has the U23 title as well. Jef Van Meirhaeghe conquered the national jersey in Vossem yesterday. He could just stay ahead of the chasing peloton. Bert Vanlerberghe got second, Jelle Donders third.

Active Lotto Belisol team
The Lotto Belisol team was active in the Belgian Championship. Two riders, Amaury Capiot and Maarten Craeghs, were part of a break of seven in the first lap. Then there were several other attempts, but none got lots of space. About forty kilometers from the finish a front group of nine was formed with Frederik Frison and future champion Jef Van Meirhaeghe. Teammate Kenneth Van Rooy could join them later. In the last lap the break was reduced to five, still with the three Lotto Belisol riders. That was an advantage. Eight kilometers from the end Van Meirhaeghe jumped away. The 23-year-old succeeded in defending a small lead, even when he had gear problems.

Finish alone
Jef Van Meirhaeghe, Belgian champion U23: “From the start on the team was well represented in front. During the race there were lots of different situations. Breakaways never got a big lead. In the final I attacked together with Frederik Frison and seven others. Kennet Van Rooy joined us later, so we were in the front group with three riders. The sports direction told us to try to finish alone. We started attacking one by one. When Frederik was caught, I went full gas.”

“I was alone the last eight kilometers. I never had ten seconds. I had to fight the whole time. It was only at the finish line I was sure, because at the end the peloton was very close. There was a hill on the course. When I wanted to change my gear there was a problem. That was really annoying. With my hand I could put the chain on the right place. I had to stay calm and that was the only thing I could do.”

The team is doing well
“It was a nice course, with lots of straight roads. The last three kilometers of the lap were downhill, with lots of headwind. Not fun if you’re on your own. We were the best team in the race. It’s already for some weeks that we’re doing well. Yesterday we continued our performances of the past weeks.”

Enjoy the title
“It’s fantastic to be Belgian champion. I already had some nice victories this season, but conquering the Belgian jersey was a dream for everyone who stood at the start yesterday. There’s only one who could go home with it and that was me. I won’t be able to ride in this jersey for a long time, as it’s my last season in the U23 category. I will enjoy it and I want to show my jersey the coming weeks. The short period of time will make it even more intense. I’d like to go to the World Championship. With Tiesj Benoot we have someone in the team who can be part of the favourites. I hope to assist him.”

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