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Lotto Belisol: Preview Belgian championship

Sunday at about half past eleven 130 riders will stand at the start of the Belgian championship in Wielsbeke, West-Flanders. After 250.2 kilometers, or eighteen laps of 13.9 kilometers, we will know who’s the successor of Stijn Devolder and can wear the Belgian tricolour for one year.

Six years ago neo-pro Roelandts won
With Jürgen Roelandts Lotto Belisol has a former Belgian champion in the team. On Sunday it’s exactly six years ago he left everybody behind him, as a neo-pro, in a bunch sprint in Knokke-Heist. This year Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie and Boris Vallée will ride their first national championship as a pro.

With a second place in Halle-Ingooigem last Wednesday Kris Boeckmans showed his good shape again. Also in the third stage of the Dauphiné he was close to the victory. Earlier this month Jonas Van Genechten won Gullegem Koerse and he conquered two places in the top ten during bunch sprints in the Tour de Suisse. In the same race Tosh Van der Sande proved to be in a good condition in the mountain stages and with a nice attack in the final of stage three. With Jens Debusschere and Kenny Dehaes Lotto Belisol has two other fast men. Sports director Herman Frison gives a preview of the Belgian championship.

No bunch sprint
Herman Frison:
“The course is completely flat, comparable to Geel in 2012. In the past it was each time a hard race in the nationals with a flat course and often a group could stay ahead. I expect that kind of scenario in Wielsbeke on Sunday as well. A championship is a very special race and there’s only one place that counts. Especially with a course like this everybody thinks he can win. There are always attacks from the start. I expect there won’t be a bunch sprint, but that a breakaway will make it to the finish.”

Several favourites in the team
“In the team we have several riders who can win. Among other Kris Boeckmans, Jens Debusschere, Kenny Dehaes, Jürgen Roelandts and Jonas Van Genechten – who are all fast – to name a few. Next to them there are definitely other riders from the team that can take the title. The Belgian championship is the most difficult race of the season, because everybody wants that jersey. There are many possible scenarios for us, but like always the riders make the race. When will the right breakaway take off? Who will be in it? That’s all unpredictable.”

“We start with a big team, but Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise even has twenty-two riders. They also have some sprinters. But still, I see Omega Pharma – Quick-Step as the big favourites. The race takes place in the home region of the team. That will become the strong block.”


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