Preview Brabantse Pijl with sports director Marc Wauters
On Wednesday 13 April the 56th edition of the Brabantse Pijl will take place. In and around the region of Vlaams-Brabant, the riders need to cover 26 hills. This race, which is trying to become a WorldTour race next year, is generally considered as the start of the second part of the Belgian cycling season.
Sports director Marc Wauters: “It will be the first time that I’m doing the Brabantse Pijl as a sports director. It’s a very nice race which is the start of the ‘Walloon’ cycling spring after the cobbled Classics. Each year, a lot of good riders are participating and it will again be a race with many attacks. The team leaders will certainly test their legs with the tough triptych in mind (Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, LTS). When a rider doesn’t have a good feeling in the Brabantse Pijl, it will be difficult to be at his best in the Ardennes Classics. This race is a good indicator.”
The start will be given on the Market of Leuven, then the peloton needs to ride a local lap of 3.8 kilometres through the centre of the city. After that it goes towards the first climb of the day, Rue de Hal. Eleven hills need to be surmounted before the riders cross the finish line for the first time. With among others the Alsemberg, Bruineput and Krabosstraat this is more than just a run-up. At 70 kilometres from the finish the riders will enter the first of three local laps of 23 kilometres. Five hills need to be covered in each lap. The Hagaard, Hertstraat, Holstheide, IJskelderlaan and Schavei will certainly determine the race. The finish line is situated after 205 kilometres in Overijse.
Marc Wauters: “The course is very tough, especially because of the sequence of the hills. These climbs can’t be compared to the hills of the cobbled Classics. The riders ride more aggressively on the cobbles, the climbs from the Ardennes Classics are steeper. It’s the sequence that reduces the amount of riders in the finale. It’s just a different type of racing.”
“This race is something for the riders who dare to attack early. Types like Philippe Gilbert are always very good on this course. There’s a big chance that it will be a sprint with a small group. Also a solo finish is possible. It’s a race which is hard to predict and that makes it so beautiful. It depends on so many little things.”
Lotto Soudal will participate with among others Tony Gallopin and Tim Wellens. They will compete with Ben Hermans, the winner of last year. Also riders such as Michael Matthews, Julian Alaphilippe, Tom Jelte Slagter and Thomas Voeckler will try to obtain the victory.
Marc Wauters: “In my opinion, BMC starts with the strongest team. Riders such as Ben Hermans always want to make the best of it. Almost all riders from our roster participated in the Tour of the Basque Country (except for Sean De Bie and Pim Ligthart, LTS) and the stages were very hard, certainly due to the bad weather conditions. Hopefully everyone stays healthy during the next few days. Tim Wellens and Tony Gallopin already showed this year that they’re in good shape. They will be the leaders during the Ardennes Classics. Then we have also a rider like Thomas De Gendt, he will get a free role. If Thomas has a very good day like in Catalunya (De Gendt won the fourth stage in the Volta a Catalunya, LTS), there are a lot of possibilities. He’s also someone who likes to attack. We start with a strong selection, I’m pretty sure that our boys will show themselves.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Sean De Bie, Thomas De Gendt, Tony Gallopin, Pim Ligthart, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports director: Marc Wauters.