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“We have set two main goals; trying to win a stage and obtaining a top ten position in the GC. The team knows that it won’t be a walk in the park, but everyone is in great shape."

Photo: Lotto Soudal

ADAM HANSEN

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BART DE CLERCQ

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JELLE WALLAYS

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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LOUIS VERVAEKE

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MAXIME MONFORT

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SANDER ARMEE

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THOMAS DE GENDT

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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16.08.2016 @ 17:35 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The final part of the cycling season is approaching so it’s time to preview the last Grand Tour of the year; the Vuelta a España. On Saturday, the race starts with a team time trial. The riders need to perform as well as possible during the following three weeks if they want to obtain a good result.

 

Mario Aerts, DS with Lotto Soudal, analysed the course and found out that it will be another hard Grand Tour. The GC riders will have to be attentively right from the beginning.

 

"The first week will immediately show which riders are in good shape. The ten stages before the first rest day offer several possible outcomes. This year’s Vuelta a España starts with a team time trial of almost 30 kilometres, a very hard discipline in cycling. The speed will be high as the course isn’t too difficult and it will be a fast track over nice roads. Then, stages two and five will most likely end with a bunch sprint. Also stages six and seven can offer a chance to the sprinters, although it is possible that it will be a sprint with a small group. These stages contain a few climbs so the attackers may have an advantage. The other stages during the first week will be something for the GC riders as every stage has an uphill finish. Mainly the fourth, eighth and tenth stage will be very important with the GC positions in mind. The climbs are very steep so they’ll certainly test the legs of the riders.

 

“The second week begins with a tough stage. It will be another hard day in the saddle as the stage ends with an uphill finish. The first part is rather flat so it will be a long sprint to the beginning of the climb. After that, a transition stage in the Basque Country is scheduled. The breakaway might have a chance to stay ahead as the course has a hilly profile. However it’s also possible that a sprint with a reduced peloton takes place. The following stage has a similar profile so the outcome could possibly be the same. Then, another very interesting stage awaits the riders as they need to climb four major mountains during the queen stage. The Col d’Aubisque, a well-known climb from the Tour de France, will be the final climb. The GC riders will have to give their all again during the next stage as they find three climbs on the route. An uphill finish of the first category will be the hard finale of that stage. Finally, the stage before the last rest day offers another chance to the sprinters that are left.

 

“The final week is not that different from the second week. Again, the riders need to go full gas just after the rest day as the stage ends with a very steep climb with gradients up to 21 percent. It’s a new climb and this one will definitely be important with the GC in mind. After that, the sprinters can show themselves again in a rather flat stage. Then, an individual time trial of 37 kilometres is scheduled. The GC riders who are able to ride a decent time trial have an advantage as the course isn’t too hilly. The penultimate stage will determine the final GC positions of this year’s Vuelta. Five climbs have to be conquered in total and the finish is situated on a HC-climb. If the time gaps aren’t too big, it’s possible that the top ten of the overall ranking will still see some changes. Finally, this year’s Vuelta finishes with a sprint festival in Madrid. This stage is comparable with the finish of the Tour de France on the Champs-Elysées in Paris.”

 

Lotto Soudal participates with a very motivated team in La Vuelta. The entire line-up did a fantastic preparation and the riders showed that they are ready to start the final Grand Tour of the year. Mario Aerts explains the team tactics.

 

“It’s true that every rider had a very good preparation to start at this year’s Vuelta. Some of them went to Livigno for a hard training week, others prepared themselves in their own way. 

 

"Sander Armée already showed this season that he’s in great form, for example during the Tour de Romandie (Armée won the mountains classification in this race, ed.) and the Tour of Norway. Sander can handle difficult mountain stages, he’s able to help the GC riders and he can join a break as well. Also Thomas De Gendt  is such a rider, although it will depend on how he has recovered from a very hard Tour de France. He’ll have some opportunities during the final two weeks when he can join breakaway groups and try to win a stage. 

 

"Louis Vervaeke will not aim for a good position in the GC. He’s still very young and he can use this Vuelta to gain strength and experience. It would be great if he can finish this Grand Tour. The climbs really suit him so he may mark some stages and then he’ll have the possibility to go for a stage win.

 

“Bart De Clercq and Maxime Monfort will be our leaders for the GC. We aim for a top ten place with these two riders. They already showed that they are in great form, so they’re both able to obtain a very nice result.

 

"Sander and Louis will help them in the mountains, but also Adam Hansen can handle a hard mountain stage. It will be the sixteenth consecutive Grand Tour of the Aussie so he has a lot of experience. He already won a stage two years ago and he’ll also aim for a stage win this year.

 

"Adam is able to help the GC riders, but he’s also very useful in the sprint train of Tosh Van der Sande who will be our sprinter during the coming three weeks. His stage win in the Tour de l’Ain gave a boost to both him and the team. Last year, he managed to obtain some nice results so this year he’ll try to perform even better. 

 

"Gert Dockx and Jelle Wallays are both riders who can help Tosh in the sprint. These riders can ride really hard and they can pull at the front of the peloton for a very long time. Jelle is able to position Tosh perfectly for the sprint. It’s his first Grand Tour ever so he’ll be very motivated to show himself.

 

“We have set two main goals; trying to win a stage and obtaining a top ten position in the GC. The team knows that it won’t be a walk in the park, but everyone is in great shape. They start with a lot of courage and they’ll give their all in each stage. Tomorrow, we leave for Spain and Thursday we will recon the team time trial. The whole team is looking forward to it and I’m sure they’ll show themselves during these three weeks!”

 

Roster Lotto Soudal:

Sander Armée, Bart De Clercq, Thomas De Gendt, Gert Dockx, Adam Hansen, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Louis Vervaeke and Jelle Wallays.

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