Lotto Belisol announces signing of Bellemakers as replacement for Meersman
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lotto Belisol announces signing of Bellemakers as replacement for Meersman

by VeloNation Press at 9:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Dutchman becomes 28th member of Belgian team

Dirk BellemakersLeft one rider short after the sudden departure of Gianni Meersman this month, the Lotto – Belisol team has signed up the Dutch rider Dirk Bellemakers to fill the vacant slot.

The 28 year old comes across after a period of time with the Landbouwkrediet team and now, at 28 years of age, will have a chance to race at a higher level in 2013.

“After the departure of Gianni Meersman – it was never the intention that he would leave us – we definitely wanted to have an equally large core,” said sports manager Marc Sergeant. “Sometimes we ride a triple program and last season we saw that – keeping in mind possible injuries – a team of 28 riders isn’t too much of a luxury.”

Until now Bellemakers has only ever raced professionally with the Landbouwkrediet squad. He was a stagiaire with the squad in 2007 and then signed a full contract for the following season. In 2008 he won the GP Stad Geraardsbergen, while two years later he took top eight overall finishes in the Ster Elektrotoer and the Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt.

Victory followed the following season in the Sint-Elooisprijs Ruddervoorde race. His best result this season was thirteenth overall in the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde.

While he isn’t at the same level as Meersman thus far, Sergeant sees him as an important addition. “With Dirk Bellemakers we take someone in the team of who we know that he is generous in his efforts for his teammates and who always has a positive mentality. He can go along in an early breakaway so his teammates are in a comfortable position, or he can be useful in the chase. The Ardennes Classics in particular should suit him; and he’s a training partner of Jelle Vanendert, so they already know each other very well.”

Bellemakers, who comes from Lommel, described himself as an all-rounder who can ride well on tough terrain. “Considering my build I am not a climber, but I can ascend pretty well. The role that I will fulfil at Lotto Belisol will of course be in service of the leaders, and during Ardennes Classics in the first place for Jelle Vanendert.”

The team is currently pushing for a WorldTour licence for 2013 and should find out this week if it has been successful in that goal. Bellemakers appears confident this will be the case, and also that he will be able to raise his game. “I have always kept on believing I would get a step higher and now it is up to me to grab that chance with both hands,” he said. “Going to a WorldTour team as a 28-year-old seems late, but because I was finishing my studies in commercial economics, I only have been putting everything on cycling for the last two years.

“That’s why I think I can still make progression on many levels. By riding in a better structured team, contesting in races on the highest level and working hard, I should definitely be able to do better.”

He will join riders such as Vanendert, Andre Greipel and Jurgen Van den Broeck on the team.

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