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"On the first and last day the race could end with a sprint, then we aim for a win with Greipel. On those days Debusschere, Roelandts and Sieberg will race as well."

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ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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BART DE CLERCQ

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CHALLENGE MALLORCA

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JASPER DE BUYST

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JENS DEBUSSCHERE

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JURGEN ROELANDTS

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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LOUIS VERVAEKE

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MARCEL SIEBERG

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TIESJ BENOOT

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TIM WELLENS

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TOMASZ MARCZYNSKI

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26.01.2016 @ 14:38 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Yesterday, the eleven Lorro Soudal riders that are selected for the Challenge Mallorca (January 28 – 31) arrived on the Spanish island. Lotto Soudal has chosen the same approach as last year: no Tour de San Luis, no races in the Middle-East and a different composition of the team for Tour Down Under; those riders again get a few weeks rest after they return from Australia.

 

“Last year’s approach has yielded success, our new race programme had a positive evaluation, so we decided to make the same choices this year: race less and don’t send our riders for the Flemish classics to the Tour Down Under," Herman Frison, sports director, said. "By not riding races like the Tour de San Luis in Argentina or the Tours of Qatar and Oman we want to spare them racing in exotic temperatures and a jetlag. Last season, we didn’t know how it would turn out, but it proved to be a success. When the riders get the necessary rest in the meantime, they can longer keep up the top condition in the spring thanks to the different race programme. We saw that last year.”

 

In 2015 the team had the most successful season ever. Lotto Soudal scored the entire year, with victories from the GP La Marseillaise on February 1 until the Eurométropole Tour in the beginning of October. The team won forty times. Can the team do as well as last year and do they feel any pressure?

 

“We don’t experience any pressure," Frison said. "The team is almost the same as last year, with only four new riders. Rafael Valls has to be an asset for the one-week stage races, Jelle Wallays is a rider for the classics. Guys like Tiesj Benoot and Jens Debusschere will be stronger than last year and you can always count on André Greipel. Last year, we put our trust in them and that remains the same. We are convinced that we can perform as well as last year and why not even better?

 

"Hopefully, we can already triumph before the Belgian opening weekend at the end of February, by winning at Challenge Mallorca, GP La Marseillaise, Etoile de Bessèges, Ruta del Sol or Volta ao Algarve. It’s not a must, but it always is good to have won before the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad or Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.”

 

The Challenge Mallorca consists of four individual races or Trofeos. A team can select different riders each day. Both sprinters and climbers get courses that suit them. On Thursday the race takes place in the southern part of Mallorca and there’s a chance the sprinters will battle for the victory. On Friday the course is tougher. On the third day the riders immediately have to climb the Coll de Sóller. About twenty kilometres from the finish in Deià they will reach the top of the Collet Alt de Cuber, at 920 metres of altitude. Then there is a descent of ten kilometres, followed by a last uphill part. Last year Tim Wellens was second in Deià, behind Alejandro Valverde. Tiesj Benoot finished eighth. On Sunday, when the race finishes in the capital Palma, the fast guys get another opportunity because the last 35 kilometres are flat.

 

“On the first and last day the race could end with a sprint, then we aim for a win with Greipel. On those days Debusschere, Roelandts and Sieberg will race as well," Frison said. "The second and third day we will choose for riders like Benoot, Vervaeke and Wellens. Saturday is the hardest, with start at the bottom of the Sóller. With our team we stand a chance in sprints and the tougher stages. Without putting pressure on the riders, we have to aim for at least one victory. If we want to achieve the same results as last year, then we have to be good right from the beginning. Last year we also won pretty soon, we have to start the same way now and don’t hide our ambition.”

 

After the Challenge Mallorca the Lotto Soudal riders stay five more days in Mallorca to train.

 

“Mallorca is perfect to train, we already held our training camps on the island in December and January," Frison said. "We decided to add some training days to our stay. All tests are done, it is all about training now. The basic condition has to be fine, it’s more intensive now. Wim Van Hoolst, trainer from Energy Lab, will draw the schedules and it won’t be easy. During a training the riders will for example have to ride uphill for twenty minutes twice in a row at a certain wattage and heart rate, which will be determined individually. There will also be power and sprint trainings as well as one long training of more than six hours.”

 

Team Challenge Mallorca: 

Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst, Bart De Clercq, Jens Debusschere, Frederik Frison, André Greipel, Tomasz Marczynski, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg, Louis Vervaeke and Tim Wellens.

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