Lotto-Belisol targeting the Ronde van Vlaanderen on two fronts
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Friday, March 29, 2013

Lotto-Belisol targeting the Ronde van Vlaanderen on two fronts

by Ben Atkins at 12:48 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
 
Men and women looking for success; Roelandts and Debusschere looking for better luck

jurgen roelandtsLotto-Belisol is targeting the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday, with teams in both the men’s and women’s editions. The Belgian squad’s men have been active and present at the front of most of the cobbled races so far this season, but has so far lacked the necessary fortune to achieve the big results; similarly the women have been present where it mattered in both races of the World Cup so far.

“The past few weeks we had a lot of bad luck with punctures for Jens Debusschere and Jürgen Roelandts when they were riding in a great position, likely to be successful,” said men’s team directeur sportif Herman Frison. “If after a first big selection about forty riders are left, then at least three Lotto Belisol riders will have to be part of that group.

“Our leader this Sunday is without any doubt Jürgen Roelandts,” he added, “but we do expect something from Jens Debusschere who was riding excellently in Ghent – Wevelgem.”

Former Belgian champion Roelandts missed last year’s Classics season as he recovered from the fractured vertebra he sustained in the Santos Tour Down Under, but has been one of the team’s most aggressive riders this season. Having sat out the 2012 edition of the Ronde though, he has yet to experience the finish in Oudenaarde.

“It will be the first time that I will ride the “Ronde” on the new course, but that doesn’t seem a disadvantage to me, because what counts is the state of your legs,” Roelandts reasoned. “I’ll have to be on the front rows of the peloton all the time, because you can lose the race in between crucial parts of the course as well. The ideal scenario for me is that it will be an open race and not like last year, when it only exploded at the end. The last weeks Fabian Cancellara has proven to be his old self again, so I’ll definitely have to keep an eye on him. I wasn’t completely free of worries this week because of that collision in Ghent – Wevelgem, but I don’t think that will bother me on Sunday.”

Marijn de Vries has been the women’s team’s top performer in the World Cup so far this year, finishing eight in the Ronde van Drenthe and 14th in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda; both times as part of the first chase group. The Dutch former journalist will be leading the team again on Sunday, along with Belgian champion Jolien D’hoore.

marijn de vries“The first crucial point in Sunday’s race is the Molenberg, there the riders have to be well in front, the cobblestones in the Paddestraat follow immediately,” explained women’s team manager Dany Schoonbaert. “If you are on the front rows at that point, you will have made it through the first selection. What our riders have to do on Sunday is: to follow. In the final we can take a look at our options. After the phase with the Molenberg and Paddestraat also the passage on the cobblestone section of the Haaghoek is of the utmost importance. That’s where it fell apart last year, then the final with the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg still has to come. Jolien D’hoore will have to join breakaways, but she has to stay calm and count on her fast legs at the finish.”

The only Belgian to have won the women’s version of the Ronde in its nine editions to date was Grace Verbeke, riding for what was then the Lotto Ladies Team. While Verbeke has since moved on - and will be riding for the CyclelivePlus-Zannata team on Sunday - Schoonbaert feels that he knows what it takes to win.

“In the beginning of the race our team will have to follow and then we can show ourselves in the final,” Schoonbaert continued. “Marijn de Vries is definitely an asset, I expect her to be in front in the final. If we have Jolien and Marijn together in the front of the race we can make use of this situation or otherwise Marijn will lead out the sprint for Jolien. We’ll see, in any case the field will be split up in many groups, because it is a very tough course. But everything is possible, we won the “Ronde” in 2010 with Grace Verbeke and we hadn’t expected that either. Each time you just have to go for the victory. Last week we did a recon of the course and Saturday morning we will do another recon of the way up to the Molenberg, because this will be a very crucial phase in the race.”

Lotto-Belisol team for the Ronde van Vlaanderen
Lars Bak, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Marcel Sieberg, Vicente Reynes, Jürgen Roelandts, Tosh Van der Sande and Frederik Willems.

Lotto-Belisol team for the Ronde van Vlaanderen voor Vrouwen
Marijn de Vries,  Jolien D’hoore, Ann-Sophie Duyck, Kaat Hannes, Kim Schoonbaert, Marion Rousse

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