Preview Dwars door Vlaanderen
On Wednesday the Dwars Door Vlaanderen is scheduled. The peloton will start in Roeselare and then it needs to cover about 200 kilometres. There are twelve hills and three cobbled sections on the route.
The race starts with a long run-up of 90 kilometres before the riders need to climb the first hill, which is the Nieuwe Kwaremont. After that it goes towards the Kattenberg and the cobbled sections Holleweg and Haaghoek. Then the riders will arrive at the most important part of the race. In the final 80 kilometres ten hills need to be climbed, like the Taaienberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. These are expected to determine the race. The final hill, Nokereberg, is situated at eight kilometres from the finish, which is again in the centre of Waregem.
Sports director Frederik Willems: “It’s a very nice course. A lot of the hills are also part of the course of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. At Dwars door Vlaanderen, it’s very important to be attentive at the front starting from the Eikenberg and Taaienberg, where there will be a first selection. Then it’s about thirteen kilometres to the Oude Kwaremont and there the race will explode. Several riders will certainly try to attack and then we need to react.”
Lotto Soudal will participate with among others Tiesj Benoot, Jelle Wallays and Jens Debusschere. The main competitors for the victory will be riders such as Greg Van Avermaet, Niki Terpstra and Jasper Stuyven.
Frederik Willems: “A lot of riders are in a very good form and that’s also necessary with regard to the coming races. We start with a strong team and we have a few leaders who can be present in the finale. That’s an advantage, the more riders a team has in a finale, the better. Other teams can pull at the front of the peloton but nevertheless we’ll have to be attentive at the front. When someone attacks from BMC or Etixx – Quick-Step we have to be there as well.”
“Guys like Tiesj Benoot and Jelle Wallays are able to attack or react on attempts from other teams. If a sprint takes place, we have a strong rider like Jens Debusschere. We lost some useful riders such as Gert Dockx, Stig Broeckx and Frederik Frison due to crashes, that’s a pity. But luckily our team consists of enough strong riders so we’re able to handle that.”
The winner of last year, Jelle Wallays, really looks forward to this race and he wants to show himself in the shirt of Lotto Soudal. Wallays rides in his home region and that’s always a reason to be extra motivated.
Jelle Wallays: “The feeling to ride in your home region is just incredible. I really like it when a lot of fans are standing along the course. Their encouragements really make you perform better. The next three races are partly held in West-Flanders and that’s fantastic. I look forward to Wednesday, it’s a race which suits me. I’ll certainly make the best of it.”
“After the crash in the Volta ao Algarve I had some troubles with my knee and my hip. The past two races in Nokere and Handzame were very useful to do the final preparations towards the coming races. I was able to do my work for the team and I had a great feeling during the race. We start with a strong team on Wednesday, everyone is in good shape. The Taaienberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg are still far from the finish though. It’s possible that this year’s Dwars Door Vlaanderen ends in a sprint with a large group, partly because the weather conditions won’t determine the race. If that’s the case, we have a good chance with Jens Debusschere. He’s very fast and has proven in Milano-Sanremo that he’s fully recovered from his crash in the Strade Bianche.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Sean De Bie, Jasper De Buyst, Jens Debusschere, Pim Ligthart, Marcel Sieberg and Jelle Wallays.
Sports directors; Frederik Willems and Herman Frison.