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"It’s not good physically and mentally to crash in two races that you had marked, certainly because I am convinced I would have played a role."

Photo: Lotto Soudal

BART DE CLERCQ

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JELLE VANENDERT

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LIÈGE - BASTOGNE - LIÈGE

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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LOUIS VERVAEKE

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SANDER ARMEE

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TIM WELLENS

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TONY GALLOPIN

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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24.04.2015 @ 21:31 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The day after tomorrow it is time the third of the Ardennes classics: Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The victory of La Doyenne is contested for the 101st time. At half past ten the WorldTour peloton starts in Liège for a race of 253 kilometres with ten climbs. There’s an uphill finish in Ans.

 

The Lotto Soudal team has three leaders: Tony Gallopin, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens. Vanendert was tenth in 2012. All three of them give their thoughts on the last part of the Ardennes triptych.

 

“Of course I will aim for the best possible result on Sunday," Gallopin said. "It would be fantastic to do better than my sixth place in the Amstel. The shape is good, I did everything I could to be top in this period of the year. The fact that I could sprint with the first last Sunday gives me confidence. I deliberately skipped the Flèche Wallonne because that race suits me least. This week I specifically prepared myself for Liège-Bastogne-Liège by taking enough rest and do one long training.

 

“Although the Amstel and La Doyenne have their specific features, the favourites are the same. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a race that actually should suit me even better, with a more relaxed first part of the race and longer but less explosive climbs than the Amstel. Also the finish is more my cup of tea. I hope for a lot of action in the last 50 kilometres. We are with three to play a part in the final.”

 

“My thigh still feels a bit stiff after the crash on Wednesday, but luckily I am a cyclist and not a runner," Vanendert said. "I undergo treatments to stimulate the blood circulation to optimize the feeling in that thigh. I’ll see how I react on the recon, but actually I don’t expect any problems for Sunday. It’s not good physically and mentally to crash in two races that you had marked, certainly because I am convinced I would have played a role.

 

“If the weather gets worse, I expect an elimination race. On the Wanne, Stockeu and Haute-Levée a first selection will be made. Mostly the situation stabilizes on the Rosier and Maquisard to get into the finale on La Redoute and definitely on the Roche-aux-Faucons. A smaller group is an advantage I think, because there can be a battle then. As long as the strongest teams have many riders, they can save the day for their leaders. If the race is closed, it’s more difficult.

 

“With our team we can react on different situations; attack, join others who attack, wait until Ans. When a small group gets away the composition in terms of teams is decisive. If the race is made hard, we might get rid of riders like Gerrans, which would be an advantage for Tony, who is fast at the finish line. Kwiatkowski wins the sprint in the Amstel, Tony can do that as well if the situation is good.”

 

“Before the Ardennes classics I said I would be disappointed if I didn’t get a top ten place in one of the three races," Wellens said. "It didn’t happen in the Amstel or Flèche Wallonne, so now only Sunday is left. I will consider my classics spring to be unsuccessful if I don’t set a high result in Liège.

 

"I am really motivated. La Doyenne is a monument, a mythic race, the longest and toughest of the three. On paper there are only eleven climbs, but those are all pretty long, with many altitude metres and lots of hilly parts which aren’t regarded as an official climb. In theory those longer climbs should suit me.

 

“I hope it will be wet. That way the peloton gets reduced and a breakaway has more chance to stay in front. Wednesday I deliberately did an all-or-nothing attempt because I wanted to win and I knew it would be very difficult for me to be better than someone like Alejandro Valverde on the Mur de Huy. I’m still convinced that if I had riders with me we would have had a chance.

 

"For Sunday we’ll have to analyze again what the possibilities are to get the best chance to win. In Liège the finish is a bit less specific than in the Amstel or Flèche Wallonne. The past has shown that it’s possible  to go to the finish solo or with a small group.”

 

Selection Lotto Soudal: 

Sander Armée, Bart De Clercq, Tony Gallopin, Tosh Van der Sande, Dennis Vanendert, Jelle Vanendert, Louis Vervaeke and Tim Wellens.

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