Last year’s winner Jens Debusschere looks ahead to Dwars door Vlaanderen
Tomorrow, the centre of Roeselare will prepare itself for the start of the 72nd edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen, which is part of the WorldTour from now on. Last year, it was Lotto Soudal rider Jens Debusschere who was the winner.
The riders will cover 203.4 kilometres between Roeselare and Waregem. The first hill of the day lies on the route after 91 kilometres. The Nieuwe Kwaremont is a two kilometres long hill with a 4.2% gradient and 8% maximum. A warm-up for what’s about to come. Once passed the Kattenberg, the hills and cobbled sections follow each other quickly. The Kattenberg is immediately followed by a 1.5 kilometres long cobblestone section (Holleweg) and right after that by a section of 1.7 kilometres (Haaghoek). Right after these two sections the riders have to go over the Leberg; quickly followed by the Berendries, Valkenberg, Eikenberg and Taaienberg. With a little more than thirty kilometres to cover the riders will have to attack the famous duo Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. At ten kilometres from the finish Nokereberg is the final hill of the day. The course is basically a copy of last year. The only difference is a new 800 metres long cobblestone section at 6.7 kilometres from the finish. This section is an extra obstacle in the finale, just before the winner will cross the finish line.
Jens Debusschere: “The Tirreno was a good last preparation on the Flemish Classics. The stages were long and tough and they made me stronger. Dwars door Vlaanderen is a very special race for me. It starts in Roeselare, my hometown, and arrives in Waregem right before my current doorstep. I won the race last year, making it only more special.
“But compared with last year a lot has changed. Dwars door Vlaanderen is now a race on WorldTour level which makes the competition far more difficult this year. It’s up to our power guys like Tiesj Benoot and Jürgen Roelandts to follow the competition, or try to follow them. Quick-Step Floors will start with a strong team. It will be a very tough race. I think that the race will explode on the Taaienberg, like every year. Especially now the competition has grown so big, it will be as hectic as during the Ronde van Vlaanderen going to the Taaienberg. The separation starts already on the Kattenberg, after 110 kilometres, but if you are too far behind turning on the Taaienberg, your race is over.”
“We start Dwars door Vlaanderen to win. I’m convinced that we have a strong team. Tiesj Benoot and Jürgen Roelandts are our strongest men on the cobblestone sections and hills. If I’m still in the front of the race after the last cobbles I will do my best to sprint for victory. We also got De Buyst, Gallopin, Maes, Sieberg and Wallays. A perfect combination of experience and young violence. The course is almost completely the same like last year, except for one new cobblestone section at around seven kilometres from the finish. I don’t think you can ride away from a group on this section but a big group can definitely split. I’m looking forward to Wednesday!”
Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Tiesj Benoot, Jens Debusschere, Jasper De Buyst, Tony Gallopin, Nikolas Maes, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Jelle Wallays.
Sports directors: Frederik Willems and Herman Frison.