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"Whatever Van Avermaet can do is also possible for me. I'm sure of that. For example, he managed to win a stage in the Eneco Tour while I... I have been so close all three times."

Photo: Lotto Soudal






25.02.2015 @ 11:27 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

It looks like an annual ritual. Each spring Jürgen Roelandts is tipped as one of the major candidates for the cobbles classics like Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and the Ronde van Vlaanderen. But almost every year, something goes wrong. But not this year, Roelandts claims. And he has a reason for his optimism. "Finally I have got what I wanted: carte blance."


Something has changed at Lotto Soudal. The Belgian team no longer wants to be the dominant team in January for everything to go wroung a few months later in the classics.


"I have made my point clear," Jurgen Roelandts tells Het Nieuwsblad. "In the past, the team always wanted to win stages with Greipel in Australia so they needed me there. But they forgot about the impact it had on the Flemish races. It may not cost much physical energy to lead out a sprint but mentally it is not to be underestimated. And I have paid for that a few months later."


Now Roelandts has been almost completely taken off lead-out duties.



"I wanted carte blanche and I got it," he said. "For the first time I can completely wotk towards the classics in the way I want."



However, Greipel was not pleased with the decision that sees him lose a key part of his lead-out train.


"He was shocked when he got the information at our camp in Spain," Roelandts said. "I also talked to me but I've been very honest: until April I want to do my thing. Full gas. Afterwards we'll see. To be clear: if we ride the Tour of Belgium together in May, I will lead him out in the sprints. But the next weeks are my weeks."


People have suggested that Roelandts is more of a domestique than a leader.



"I don't think so," he said. "Whatever Van Avermaet can do is also possible for me. I'm sure of that. For example, he managed to win a stage in the Eneco Tour while I... I have been so close all three times. Once my tube came off 200m from the finish, once I punctured 400m from the line and last time I was beaten by Nizzolo by two millimeters because something came into my wheel 500m from the finish."



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