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Lotto Belisol: Preview World Championship team time trial

Next Sunday the World Championships in Florence kick off. The first race on the calendar are the team time trials. At 14:00 CET the first team of men will start. The departure is in Montecatini Terme for a ride of 57,2 kilometers via Pistoia to the Mandela Forum in Florence. The course is practically as flat as can be with only one hill in the beginning with top at km 7,3; the Serravalle Pistoiese is 1,4 km long. At the top the first time check is done. The next intermediate checkpoints are after 24,1 km and 42,3 km.

In 2012, at the World Championships in Valkenburg, it was the first time a world championship team time trial took place for commercial teams. Between 1962 en 1994 each year there was a team time trial of 100 kilometers for amateurs. That was ridden with national teams. Also at the Olympics from 1960 up till 1992 this was a fixed discipline.

Bart De Clercq makes his comeback after he abandoned the Vuelta. The six guys who will defend the colours of Lotto Belisol on Sunday were all part of the Tour team that became fifth in the team time trial in Nice. That one was 25 kilometers long and was ridden with nine, at the Worlds there are only six riders. In Florence the time of the fourth man will count. We give you a preview with sports director Herman Frison and one of the selected riders: Lars Bak.

Herman Frison, sports director: “We go to Florence with a strong team. Together with Marc Sergeant I went to check out the course in March and we filmed it. There is only one hill on the route and for the rest it’s completely flat. This group of six is one of the strongest combinations for this course, they are equal to each other. They all participated in the Tour, the course wasn’t that long there as at the Worlds.”

“We aim for a place in top ten, the higher the better. Last year our result was disappointing, we only became 17th. As a WorldTour team you can’t be satisfied with that and we should aim higher. That should definitely be possible. In the Tour we have proven we can. Such a team time trial is suffering, go à bloc for more than an hour, go into the red. The guys understand one another well. The morale is good, the performance in the Tour has given them a boost. Tomorrow there is a training and Saturday we’ll do a recon of the course. We will look at the positioning for Sunday and work on the automatisms.”

Lars Bak: “It’s an important race because the team can show itself at the Worlds. I’m of course very happy with my selection. There’s a healthy dose of nervousness, but I’m looking forward to Sunday, it’s something special. Just like with the individual time trial confidence is very important. That feeling has come thanks to the team time trial in the Tour. We have shown what we’re capable of. It’s such a hard discipline, more than an hour you are riding up to your absolute limit, it’s so hard and fast. You really need to be ready to suffer. If you know you can set a good result, more is possible.”

“It’s important that we use the maximum potential of all riders. We have to arrive with four, so we can’t all blow up our engine from the start. In the Tour for example we did a kind of lead-out in the last five kilometers with Greipel, Henderson and Sieberg. They all went full gas for 500 meters so we could reach a maximal speed and set the best possible time with five guys. Sunday we’re only six and have to be careful not to sacrifice someone too soon.”

“The course in Nice suited us because it was flat, that’s also the case in Italy with only one hill in the beginning. For the rest it’s all about riding with the big gear. We know each other and understand each other well. We’re all focused and keen to set a good result. With our new time trial bikes, the Ridley Dean Fast, we saw in the Tour that we can compete with the best teams. That’s one of the reasons why the expectations are higher than last year.”

Selection Lotto Belisol: Lars Bak, Bart De Clercq, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson and Jürgen Roelandts.

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