Lotto Belisol in final countdown to first season events
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lotto Belisol in final countdown to first season events

by VeloNation Press at 5:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Greipel heads Tour Down Under squad, selections named for five different races

Andre GreipelDetermined to build on its points haul from 2012, the Lotto – Belisol team has announced its lineup for the first events of the current season and is making final preparations for five different races. The team will compete on four continents in January but, before then, many of the riders will get together for a training camp in Benicassim, which will run from January 3rd to 14th.

This group will comprise most of the team, although the riders who will compete in the Tour Down Under will instead head early to Australia, leaving on January 8th and training in the heat after their arrival.

The first selection from the team which will be in action are the riders who will dispute the 2.1-ranked Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon, which runs from January 14th to 20th. Vicente Reynes, Dirk Bellemakers, Gaëtan Bille, Gert Dockx, Maarten Neyens and Fréderique Robert have the chance to take the team’s first victory of the season, and will be motivated to do so.

If they are unable to pull that off, a rider who many will expect to start winning early in the season could oblige in Australia. Andre Greipel won the Santos Tour Down Under in 2008 and 2010 and while his chances of taking a third overall title might be affected by the uphill finish at Old Willunga Hill, he certainly will be fancied for the Down Under Classic on January 20th plus stage victories in the WorldTour race itself. It begins on January 22nd and runs for six days.

Greipel will be backed by a strong squad, comprising right-hand men Greg Henderson and Adam Hansen, plus Olivier Kaisen, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Tim Wellens.

At the same time, six others will be competing in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina (Jan 21 – 27). Jurgen Van den Broeck, who finished fourth in the 2012 Tour de France, will be one to watch, and will be backed by Bart De Clercq, Jens Debusschere, Kenny Dehaes, Joost Van Leijen and Frederik Willems.

The final group of riders who will make their debut in January are those who will compete in the French GP La Marseillaise (27th) and the Etoile de Bessèges (January 30th – Feb 3rd). Lars Bak, Dirk Bellemakers, Brian Bulgaç, Francis De Greef, Maarten Neyens, Fréderique Robert, Jurgen Van de Walle and Tosh Van der Sande will be in action there.

While the team had the rider with the most professional victories in 2012 – Greipel – as a collective unit it didn’t collect as many points as the other squads in the WorldTour. In October it was ranked seventeenth in the UCI’s hierarchy of teams, meaning it had a nervous wait to find out if it would have a UCI ProTeam licence for 2013.

Having succeeded in that task, the riders will know that they have to collect more points as a group in this season in order to avoid the same situation next autumn. The January races will be their chance to start things off in a good way.


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