The Belgian Championships with De Gendt, Debusschere and Frison
This week the Belgian Championships take place. On Friday 26th June it’s the time trial, the road race is scheduled two days later. Lotto Soudal will have a large delegation in both races.
The time trial championships are being organized in Postel, part of Mol. Two laps of 24.5 kilometres have to be covered by the men and because of practical reasons the riders start in two shifts. Sean De Bie, Thomas De Gendt, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Boris Vallée and Tim Wellens will represent Lotto Soudal.
Thomas De Gendt: “Time trials are a strength of mine, I am ambitious for tomorrow and want to win the title. I’m in a good condition. I wanted to test myself in the time trial on the last day of the Tour de Suisse, but I wasn’t recovered yet after my long breakaway. I took some rest this week and that will be enough. The course should suit me. There are many straight parts and only a few turns which don’t seem too technical.”
“Kristof Vandewalle is one of the main favourites. I also expect a strong performance of my teammate Tim Wellens. I also think Victor Campenaerts and Yves Lampaert can finish on the podium.”
“It’s good that the time trial championships take place just before the road race. Lots of riders want to be good on Sunday and are in a good shape. In the past the time trial was organized after the Tour, only few people were keen then. Last year it was scheduled in May, at the time of the Tour de Romandie and Tour of Turkey. This new date is a good change.”
The road race
Tervuren, near Brussels, hosts the Belgian road race on Sunday. The riders have to cover fourteen laps of eighteen kilometres, 252 kilometres in total. On the course lies the Horenberg, a short climb which could definitely cause a selection.
Like every year Lotto Soudal starts with many riders. Gert Dockx won’t take part as he crashed in the Dauphiné. If Maxime Monfort is fully recovered after his crash in the Tour de Suisse he will start. For Stig Broeckx it will be the first race since his crash in the Giro.
With a nice mix of different types of riders the team can make it a hard race. With among other Tiesj Benoot, Kris Boeckmans, Jürgen Roelandts and 2014 winner Jens Debusschere Lotto Soudal will aim for a second victory in a row.
Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “It’s a tough course in Tervuren, tougher than lots of people think. That could be tricky. The roads are good and I expect they will race at a high speed, especially in the first phase. After the climb there is a part where the wind could play a role. I don’t think it will be a bunch sprint at the end. It will probably be a small group of about ten riders that will fight for the title. Last year such a breakaway was caught, but this year such a group could make it.”
“Like every year we start with a large team, but you only need one man to win. There is only one place that counts. Last year we finished it off perfectly, hopefully we can do that again on Sunday. We have several riders that could win. Jens Debusschere, Tiesj Benoot, Kris Boeckmans, Sean De Bie, Jürgen Roelandts and Tim Wellens for example. We have to work well together like last year, that was perfect. We want to see that again.”
Jens Debusschere: “On Tuesday, in Ruddervoorde, I had my last race before the Belgian Championships. I wanted to win, but I also considered it as a training. I enjoyed the race. I am aware that this could be the last days in the national jersey. I will definitely miss it. It was nice to wear the jersey in the spring classics, lots of people cheered me on, everyone recognized me. I will certainly always remember Ghent-Wevelgem and my stage win in Tirreno-Adriatico.”
“I have a chance of winning the title again this weekend. My condition is really good. You need luck as well, but I don’t have less chance than other riders. It’s not an easy course, but not too tough either. A race of 250 kilometres is always hard, even if it’s flat. The last three to four laps the ascent of the Horenberg will get tougher. I consider Tom Boonen, Sep Vanmarcke and Van Avermaet to be the main favourites. We have several cards to play.”