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Lotto Belisol: Preview Belgian national championship

Sunday 17 Lotto Belisol riders will participate in the Belgian national championship in La Roche-en-Ardenne. Only Jens Debusschere and Jelle Vanendert won’t be able to start. At about twelve o’clock the pros will start 16 laps of 13,8 kilometers, which adds up to a total distance of 220,8 kilometers. A race in the Ardennes means of course that there has to climbed. In one lap there are four hills.

First on the route is the Côte de l’Ortho, a climb of 2,8 kilometers with an average gradient of 6,2%. Buisson and Hives are two hills of 500 meters each with parts up to 8%. After the Hives there is a descent of 3 kilometers to the centre of La Roche. There the Côte du Chalet waits for the riders, the top is only 500 meters before the finish line. It’s a tough course, that offers a lot of opportunities. We look ahead with Jürgen Roelandts. He won the Belgian championship in 2008, it was only his first year as a pro. That year the race took place on a whole different course, at the coast in Knokke-Heist.

Jürgen Roelandts: “A Belgian national championship is always an open race and there are always several riders that surprise. Gianni Meersman is doing well at the moment, but it’s never easy to win when you’re a favourite. Because there has to be climbed much, it’s important that you’re good yourself and the team can’t do much for you. Of course we can attack and make sure we don’t have to chase, because than you have to sacrifice many of your riders.”

“I might check out the course tomorrow, but I mainly think it will be the state of your legs that will decide next Sunday. The strongest riders will come to the front. At the moment I’m still recovering from my crash in the Ster ZLM Toer. I mainly have pain in my lower back and hamstrings. Hopefully I’m feeling better on Sunday than earlier this week, because it should be a course that suits me. Of course I’d like to win a second Belgian national title, but everything has to go smooth.”

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