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Lotto Belisol: Review of the Vuelta with Mario Aerts

The 68th Vuelta a España finished today with the last stage to Madrid. Lotto Belisol ends the race with Francis De Greef, Adam Hansen, Tosh Van der Sande and Dennis Vanendert. For Van der Sande it was his first race of three weeks, for Hansen the seventh Grand Tour in a row that he completed. Just before the first rest day the team saw Bart De Clercq fall out after a crash, where he bruised a tendon in his right knee. In the stage with finish on Collada de la Gallina Jelle Vanendert was one of the riders to abandon due to hypothermia. Lotto Belisol attacked several times and that yielded a third place of Adam Hansen in the mountain stage to Peña Cabarga. Mario Aerts looks back on three weeks Vuelta.

Mario Aerts, sports director: “We had set two goals: winning a stage and get a good GC with Bart De Clercq. We could forget the second one just before the first rest day, before it all had to begin actually. That was a serious set-back, especially because he was riding so good. I think top ten was possible. In any case we were unlucky with the riders that fell out. Jelle Vanendert was really frozen when he abandoned, he couldn’t continue. Of course that was a pity.”

“Unfortunately Adam Hansen couldn’t win the stage to Peña Cabarga. The day before he had used some power in the break with Aramendia. They had hoped to get in an escape with more riders, but together they created a gap and then there was doubt: set through or not? You never know and that’s why they rode ahead. Afterwards it’s easy to say, at the moment itself it isn’t that simple. That third place a day later was a good result. He played along and we were satisfied with that. Of course our goal was a stage win, but that wasn’t given to many teams in this Vuelta. Very often there was an uphill finish, only a few times a man from a break could celebrate at the finish line.”

“Adam Hansen is still very fresh at the end of his seventh Grand Tour he completes in a row. For our debutant Tosh Van der Sande this was a good school. He’ll get stronger out of this. He’s very tired now, but later he will definitely reap the fruits of this adventure. Dennis Vanendert suffered from his knee a few days, but the final stages it got better. That knee pain was probably due to the freezing stage last weekend. In the final on Friday he showed he was okay by attacking, so he still had strength. Francis De Greef has ridden well too. He joined a breakaway a few times. He didn’t come here for a GC. Generally we are satisfied that the team tried everything they could from the first stages. It was a very difficult Vuelta if you’re not a top climber or top sprinter. If Bart was still here, we would have had a different story.”

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