Nine Lotto-Belisol riders with goals at the Giro d’Italia
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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Nine Lotto-Belisol riders with goals at the Giro d’Italia

by Ben Atkins at 11:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Gianni Meersman chasing stages; Bart De Clercq and Francis De Greef for the overall

gianni meersmanLotto-Belisol goes into the Giro d’Italia, which start in Herning, Denmark, on Saturday, with definite goals for all of its riders. The Belgian ProTeam suffered during the Spring Classics, having lost a number of its top men with injury, but heads into the first Grand Tour of the year confident that it can be up there with the best.

"I think we are going to the Giro with nine riders, all of whom have a very precise goal,” explained the team’s manager Marg Sergeant. “I personally went to the presentation and meeting and right away it was obvious that a couple of stages, having a steep finish, were ideally suited for Gianni Meersman. Gianni has been working up to the Giro and is excellent in picking his races.”

As well as stages for Meersman, Lotto-Belisol has two riders that will be aiming to get as far as they can in the overall classification; although Sergeant stresses that there will be no pressure on either.

“On the other side we have the duo Bart De Clercq and Francis De Greef,” he said. “As a neo-pro last year, Bart already won a stage [stage 7 to Montevergine di Mercogliano - ed] and finished 26th in the overall ranking, despite of having lost quite a lot of time in the early stages. Keep in mind that he isn't bad at time trials, an aspect on which we worked hard last week.

“Francis is big and strong, but he is taking it to the limit to appear as sharp as possible on the starting line. Last year his Giro ended at place 23 and also in the previous years he performed well. We can't make the mistake to put high goals with them, but a top 20 place is realistic. In this way it might be possible for one of them to slip away in an escape from the peloton, being able the tighten up their rankings. Adam Hansen also can stand his ground in the mountains and has ridden a focused Tour of Turkey, until a crash made him forfeit.”

In addition to those chasing specific objectives, Lotto-Belisol will also be fielding a number of riders seeking experience in the toughest races in the calendar. There will be some experience helpers too, and for one of whom, the Giro will be a special one.

"With Dennis Vanendert [younger brother of Tour de France stage winner Jelle - ed], Brian Bulgac and Gaetan Bille, three of our neo-pros are making their debut in a Grand Tour,” Sergeant explained. “For them it will be a discovery, even as Dennis Vanendert already has ridden a lot in Italy with the youth teams.

“Olivier Kaisen has finished in all of the eight Grand Tours he has participated [five Vueltas a España, and three Giri d’Italia -ed] in and for Lars Bak this Giro is a special edition, considering the fact that he begins this Giro in his native country. After he broke his hand, he did everything to get fit in time and in Romandie he just missed the mountains jersey, for which he had made a lot of points in a long escape.”

Sergeant expects the Giro to be a hard race as usual but, like most in the peloton, is not worried by the long transfer required after the first three days in Denmark.
 
“In this edition the Giro confirms its name of being a tough tour, considering all the climbing and the uphill finishes,” he said. “Having the start in Denmark isn't much of an issue for most of the riders. The Giro already started in lots of countries, even Belgium, and so the riders are used to making actions everywhere.”

Lotto-Belisol team for the Giro d’Italia
Lars Bak, Gaetan Bille, Brian Bulgac, Bart De Clercq, Francis De Greef, Adam Hansen, Olivier Kaisen, Gianni Meersman and Dennis Vanendert

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