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Lotto Belisol: Kurt Van de Wouwer looks back on the season of the U23 team

Today we look back on the season of the U23 team of Lotto Belisol with sports director Kurt Van de Wouwer. The team took a victory 44 times, among that the titles of Victor Campenaerts at the European and Belgian Championship time trial. He was the best seven times this year, each time in a time trial. Together with Jef Van Meirhaeghe he won the duo time trial Duo Normand at the end of September. With Frederik Frison and Stig Broeckx the team had both the Antwerp provincial champion time trial with the U23 as with the elite without contract. Jeroen Vrolijckx was the fastest in the race against the clock at the provincial championship time trial in Limburg. There was a provincial title on the road as well, Stef Van Zummeren was the best of Antwerp. Tiesj Benoot gave the team a victory in a stage race, by winning the Tour de Moselle.

Lotto Belisol U23 won the team classification of the Top Competition U23 for the second year in a row. This consists of nine Belgian UCI races, among it the team time trial in Borlo. That race was won by the boys of Lotto Belisol. For the rest there was for example the second place of Stig Broeckx in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the 6th race of the Top Competition.

Stig Broeckx will become pro at Lotto Belisol next year after he was a trainee for some months in 2013. Victor Campenaerts has got a pro contract of Topsport Vlaanderen.

Kurt Van de Wouwer, sports director: “It was a good season for us. We have collected 44 victories with the U23 team this year. The European and Belgian time trial title of Victor Campenaerts are definitely highlights. A few years ago we had a European road champion with Kris Boeckmans, but in time trial it was a first. In Liedekerke, a race of the Belgian Cup, we occupied the complete podium with winner Frederik Frison, number two Dries Van Gestel and third man Tiesj Benoot. That is special. In September there was the Tour de Moselle, where the national teams prepared for the World Championships. Tiesj Benoot won the GC. Campenaerts was third and Vervaeke fourth, so we were represented very well in the top of the classification. This year we were able to dominate some races with the entire team.”

“This season we won the Top Competition for the second time in a row. This has been a goal for us for many years, in 2012 it succeeded and now again. The reason we won was mainly because of the fact that we were strong as a team. We didn’t win any individual race, but we did win the team time trial. We beat Topsport Vlaanderen. That was definitely a highlight, that we could beat a pro team by ten seconds. The Top Competition is very important to the teams. It’s an honour for us to finish first.”

“We are definitely happy with this number of victories, the only disappointment was the Belgian Championship in Lommel, where we dominated the race and had five riders in the top ten. In fact we shouldn’t have lost that day, it was a missed opportunity. It would have been nice to take the title again after Jorne Carolus won last year. We got silver and bronze, but at a championship only one place counts.”

“Two of our riders will become pro. Victor Campenaerts is a typical time trialist, he has won nearly all time trials in Belgium. He comes from the triathlon and he’s only a cyclist for three years, with his pro contract at Topsport Vlaanderen he has set the next step. That Stig Broeckx becomes pro at Lotto Belisol is proof that our training pyramid works. We follow that boy already for many years, since he was part of the Lotto Cycling Talent project, and know him very well. He got the chance to become a trainee and grabbed it with both hands. During that period he proved to be ready to become pro. When you see how he works for the team in races like the Brussels Cycling Classic and the World Ports Classic, where he won the youth jersey, that promises for the future. For the rest we were able to keep our strong riders, which means we have a good team for next year.”

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