What's Cool In Road Cycling

Kurt Van de Wouwer gives a preview of three Belgian races: GP Wallonie, Koolskamp and Impanis-Van Petegem

This week Lotto Soudal has a nice race programme in Belgium, with three Europe Tour races: Grand Prix de Wallonie (16/09), Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen (Championship of Flanders) – Koolskamp (18/09) and Primus Classic Impanis–Van Petegem (19/09). Kurt Van de Wouwer is the sports director for all three races, he gives a short preview for the coming days.

The Grand Prix de Wallonie starts in Chaudfontaine. After 198 kilometres the riders will get to the finish on the Citadelle de Namur, the seventh hill of the day.

Kurt Van de Wouwer: “We don’t have a specific leader for the Grand Prix de Wallonie. There are several riders who can set a good result there. Jelle Vanendert for example, who was fourth last year. Also Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere or Pim Ligthart could score there. We’ll have to anticipate, if we wait till the Citadelle, we possibly can’t beat the strongest riders. Because we have a good team in general, it’s better for us that things get started early. That can be on the three hills ahead of the Citadelle, in the last forty kilometres. A selection can be made there already, certainly when the circumstances are like this moment: rain and wind. The descents in Wallonia could be dangerous then. To me, Jan Bakelants seems to be a potential winner.”

On Friday the race in Koolskamp, in West-Flanders, will take place for the 100rd time. The first edition was held in 1908. The race consists of sixteen laps of 12.3 kilometres; a total of around 196 kilometres.

Kurt Van de Wouwer: “In Koolskamp we have a former winner in the team, Jens Debusschere (Debusschere won in 2013, LTS), and Kenny Dehaes. One of them will do the sprint for us. Let’s say there is 80% chance of a bunch sprint. I didn’t often ride in Koolskamp during my career, I preferred a race like the Grand Prix de Wallonie, but there’s always a nice atmosphere in Koolskamp with an enthusiastic crowd. Trainees Frederik Frison and Dries Van Gestel, who also races on Wednesday, are perfect riders to join a breakaway. Frederik did a great job at the Tour of Britain, for Debusschere and Greipel. Dries rode the Tour de Moselle, a U23 race, and was third overall.”

The last race on Belgian soil this week is the Primus Classic Impanis–Van Petegem. This is still a pretty new race, the first edition was in 2011. The start is in Brakel, East-Flanders. The finish lies in Haacht (Flemish-Brabant), after a race of almost 200 kilometres. There are eleven hills on the route, but they aren’t very steep.

Kurt Van de Wouwer: “A big part of the route of the Primus Classic Impanis-VanPetegem lies in Wallonia, but still it has features of a Flemish race. The course isn’t flat, but the hills aren’t very hard to climb. The weather could play a more important role than the hills. The peloton will head along some open fields, where the wind could become a factor. Both scenarios are possible: a break that survives or a group sprint. Many riders will have taken part in the race in Koolskamp the day before and that might make them a bit tired. There is a definitely a chance that an escapee can take the victory. Sander Armée, Stig Broeckx and Dennis Vanendert might get in a breakaway. Kenny Dehaes and Jasper De Buyst are the fast men in the team. We hope for a nice week. At the Grand Prix de Wallonie it’s our ambition to end up in top five, and we’d like to win one of the other two races: Koolskamp or Impanis-Van Petegem.”

Selection Grand Prix de Wallonie (16/09): Vegard Breen, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, Pim Ligthart, Dries Van Gestel, Dennis Vanendert, Jelle Vanendert and Louis Vervaeke.

Selection Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen – Koolskamp (18/09): Vegard Breen, Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, Kenny Deheaes, Gert Dockx, Frederik Frison, Boris Vallée and Dries Van Gestel.

Selection Primus Classic Impanis–Van Petegem (19/09): Sander Armée, Vegard Breen, Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Jasper De Buyst, Kenny Dehaes, Pim Ligthart and Dennis Vanendert.

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