What's Cool In Road Cycling

Preview of Ronde van Vlaanderen with road captain Lieselot Decroix

Tomorrow Lieselot Decroix will participate in the thirteenth edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. It will be the last time she rides the Ronde as this is her last year in the peloton. We asked her what the Ronde means to her.

Lieselot Decroix: “My heart beats faster at the Ronde than in any other race. Riding in between the crowd is so impressive and makes this race unique. This edition is for us women even more special because the finale will be broadcasted live. That’s an extra motivation. I’ll be happy after the race when our team rode an attractive race and if I was able to bring my teammates to the front on crucial parts of the course.”

The almost 29-year-old Belgian has become a road captain the past years. What will be her role exactly on Sunday?

Lieselot: “Since I decided to start working fulltime a few years ago, I started focussing on a role as road captain. I can share my knowledge of the Flemish courses with foreign riders and young Belgians like Lotte Kopecky. This year four of our six riders for the Ronde are Belgians. Claudia Lichtenberg and Susy Zorzi have experience in the spring races of course, but I can still play a role by leading them to the front of the peloton at crucial points on the course. That way my teammates can save as much energy as possible and stay fresh for the finale. Last year I also helped out Elena Cecchini and she finished fifth.”

“I really have fun being a road captain. Helping the team and passing on my knowledge is more rewarding than finishing halfway the pack. This doesn’t mean I don’t have any ambition myself. In the big races I support my teammates and in other races I’ll definitely have a go of my own when the opportunity is there.”

The women start at a quarter past eleven tomorrow in Oudenaarde. After 141.2 kilometres the race will finish there as well. That will be between a quarter to three and a quarter past three. The peloton has to cover ten hills. The first one is the Wolvenberg, after 46 kilometres. Immediately after that hill there are three cobblestone sections: Ruiterstraat, Kerkgate and Jagerij. The cobbled roads take the riders to Zwalm where the Molenberg is located. Then it goes via the cobbles of Paddestraat and Haaghoek to the Leberg, Berendries and Valkenberg. After the feed zone the peloton heads towards the Kaperij, Kanarieberg and Kruisberg/Hotond. Finally the women have to climb the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. From that last top it’s only 13.3 kilometres till the finish. What will happen according to Lieselot Decroix?

Lieselot: “It’s traditionally a high pace in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and there is little chance riders can escape the peloton early in the race. The big teams usually keep the pack under control, but there is often much happening at the back of the peloton with riders who are being dropped. On the Kanarieberg, where the live broadcast starts, the battle normally begins. We have strong riders in the team. I think we should anticipate and definitely not wait until the tempo is raised by the favourites on the Oude Kwaremont.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal Ladies:
Jessie Daams, Sofie De Vuyst, Lieselot Decroix, Lotte Kopecky, Claudia Lichtenberg and Susanna Zorzi.

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