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"Rafa was our GC rider for Switzerland, so it’s such a shame that he can’t start. No we go to Switzerland without aiming for GC. Our goal is to win a stage, we have several options."

Photo: A.S.O.

JELLE VANENDERT

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JELLE WALLAYS

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JURGEN ROELANDTS

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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PIM LIGTHART

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RAFAEL VALLS

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SANDER ARMEE

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TIESJ BENOOT

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TIM WELLENS

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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TOUR DE SUISSE

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09.06.2016 @ 16:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The day after tomorrow, Lotto Soudal will be at the start of the nine-day stage race Tour de Suisse.

 

 

Rafael Valls would normally have been selected for the Tour de Suisse, but because of a shoulder injury it’s impossible for him to start. Sports director Frederik Willems gives more info about the selection and tells what he expects of the riders.

 

“At the moment Rafael Valls is training on the rollers, but racing isn’t possible. At the end of the month he might take part in the Spanish Championships and in July he will ride the Tour de Pologne. Rafa was our GC rider for Switzerland, so it’s such a shame that he can’t start. No we go to Switzerland without aiming for GC. Our goal is to win a stage, we have several options," he said.

 

“There are a few opportunities for the sprinters and in those stages Jürgen Roelandts or Tosh Van der Sande will be our man. Recently Tosh set again some good results in sprints on a tough course. Also Jürgen has the capacities to do well in the kind of sprints that we can expect in Switzerland. Pim Ligthart can help with the sprint preparations.

 

“Last year, Tiesj Benoot rode the Dauphiné, but now he chose the Tour de Suisse. He did very well in the Dauphiné, he performed well in some of the mountain stages last year. When you take a look at the stages in Switzerland there should be more opportunities for him in this race. In the second stage, which consists of four laps, it’s possible that the teams wait for a long time to try something. When the battle starts Tiesj is the right man to jump along. He always races attentively and feels when it’s the right moment to attack.

 

"Jelle Wallays is a man from our Classics core as well. After a crash in the Volta ao Algarve it was difficult for him to get back on track. It’s his first year in a WorldTour team and we want to let him experience a big one-week stage race, which is a preparation for the Tour for many.

 

“For the mountain stages Sander Armée, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens are our leaders. Sander could join an early breakaway and see how far it goes. It’s also good for him to show him at this level, like he did at the Tour de Romandie. No doubt, Tim will also want to show himself in the mountains. He could achieve a good result by joining a breakaway or, like in the Giro, by attacking in the finale. Also for Jelle Vanendert there are some opportunities. He was still strong at the end of the Giro, so that’s a good sign."

 

Jelle Vanendert said: 

 

“It was a fantastic Giro as our team won four stages, which is a rare performance in a Grand Tour. The fact that we all contributed to the success is wonderful. In the stages that André won, I started pulling at the head of the peloton quite early in the race to make sure the escapees stayed close. We all made sure that André could get to the sprint in the best possible conditions. What the victory of Tim Wellens is concerned, it is beautiful to see how a young rider becomes a team leader more and more and is always achieving bigger victories.

 

"Nonetheless, it was a hard Giro, at the end I was tired from all the efforts. I had also participated in the Walloon Classics, so I had been riding at the highest level for a long time. Still, I felt like I had survived the Giro quite well. In the past two weeks I took a lot of rest to get ready for what’s coming. The season is still long and there are several races I like such as the Belgian Championships, Tour de Wallonie, San Sebastián, the Canadian races and Lombardia.

 

“At the moment I don’t know what to expect of the Tour de Suisse. It could be that all runs smoothly right from the start, but it could also be that I need a few days to adjust to the race rhythm. But there are definitely some opportunities for a rider like me. In the real mountain stages of course, but also in the other stages a small group could ride to the finish. I could take my chance on the climbs in those finales.”

 

Line-up Lotto Soudal:

Sander Armée, Tiesj Benoot, Pim Ligthart, Jürgen Roelandts, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert, Jelle Wallays and Tim Wellens.

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