This week the European Championships are being held in Plumelec, in the west of France. On Sunday 18 September the elite will battle for the road title.
Three Lotto Soudal riders will represent their respective countries: Tiesj Benoot, Tony Gallopin and Jelle Vanendert. Tony Gallopin will be part of the French national team together with these seven riders: Julian Alaphilippe, Lilian Calmejane, Anthony Delaplace, Samuel Dumoulin, Nicolas Edet, Cyril Gautier and Alexandre Geniez.
Tony Gallopin said:
“I have adjusted my race programme to the European Championships that have been added to the calendar. It was better not to ride the Canadian races and prepare myself for my last goals of the season in the Tour of Britain. One of those goals are the European Championships in my home country. I know the course really well, I have often raced there in the past. Last year the team time trial of the Tour de France finished there.
“The toughest part is the hill at the end of the lap. The Côte de Cadoudal shouldn’t be underestimated, it’s pretty tough. The seventeen ascents of this hill will definitely have their effect at the end of the day. Of course a lot will depend on the way the race evolves. And as everyone knows that can’t always be predicted.
“It’s the first time that European Championships are contested for elite men. Will everyone wait so the last ascent will determine everything or will the decisive moment come earlier? These are European Championships, but many of the best riders in the world stand at the start. I think Peter Sagan and Michal Kwiatkowski definitely have a big chance of conquering the title. They are not the only ones of course. With the French team we will definitely challenge them.”
Jelle Vanendert and Tiesj Benoot will defend the Belgian honour on Sunday. They are a team together with Jan Bakelants, Philippe Gilbert, Ben Hermans, Jens Keukeleire, Eliot Lietaer, Gianni Meersman and Loïc Vliegen.
Tiesj Benoot said:
“I feel pretty confident for the European Championships after my races in Canada and the sixth place in the GP de Wallonie. On Wednesday during the GP de Wallonie it was really hot and normally that has a bad effect on me but it went really well. I was also surprised because I still feel the jetlag a little bit. Now I just have to rest and sleep as much as I can so that the jetlag will be absolutely gone by Sunday, but that should be okay. Jelle Vanendert and I flew home from Canada a day earlier than the rest of the team so we could rest a little more. I think that was a good choice.
“On Sunday I expect that several countries, like France and Belgium, will control the race. Of course I hope that the finale will start early and that it will be a very fast and hard race. For the Belgian team that is the best possible situation to win a medal. Our country has a team that can control the race, but we’re even better at making it hard. However, we will just have to wait and see. I haven’t seen the course yet and I’ve never ridden the GP de Plumelec but they say it’s pretty hard. The Côte de Cadoudal should suit me: it’s a two-kilometre long climb so that means a five-minute effort. That’s perfect for me.
“There are a lot of good riders at the start on Sunday. I think Julian Alaphilippe and Tony Gallopin are two riders to watch. Gallopin won the GP de Wallonie last Wednesday and he’s in really good condition. Other favourites for the victory are Petr Vakoc, Michal Kwiatkowski and Peter Sagan. But no worries, there are also strong riders in the Belgian team.”
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