Greg Henderson and Bart de Clercq sign two year extensions with Lotto Belisol
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Greg Henderson and Bart de Clercq sign two year extensions with Lotto Belisol

by VeloNation Press at 9:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Team continues to solidify around Andre Greipel, de Clercq also looking to possible GC goals

Greg HendersonAndre Greipel’s lead out man Greg Henderson has been given a two year extension to his current contract with the Lotto Belisol team, as has the Belgian Bart de Clercq.

The signings come several weeks after Greipel extended his own agreement, and are an important part of keeping the successful squad together.

The team describes the Kiwi Henderson as doing ‘invaluable’ work as Greipel’s leadout, being the last rider to drop him off, and also for his character. It notes that he and Adam Hansen do much to bring some humour to the team.

“The sprint train is team work and we want to keep that core train together,” said a pleased Henderson. “I'm happy that I can stay part of it for the next couple of years. I'm really dedicated to that job as final lead-out man; I've put a lot of time, effort and thought into it. To me the lead-out train is not just about getting to the race and seeing what we have to do. I am always thinking of other ways that we can improve the lead-out, it's part of my training.”

He’s now 36 years of age and knows that he only has a few more years left in the bunch. He describes his current role as one he enjoys, and wants to keep working at it while also sharing what he has learned.

“The priority in the next years is to keep the train on the rails and help André Greipel to the victory. It's also my goal to pass my experience to the young riders at Lotto Belisol, we have a lot of young talented bike riders,” he said. “I can teach them how to work as a team and to prepare a sprint so that they can develop further and set up their own train in the future.”

Meanwhile De Clercq is extending his own time with the team after originally move up from its youth squad to the pro ranks in 2011.

He showed his talent during that first year with a nailbiting victory on stage seven of the Giro d’Italia, where he held off a fast-chasing peloton on the climb to the line.

Seventeenth overall in last year’s Vuelta a España, he is currently riding his first Tour and has been helping Greipel. He was also on the attack last Sunday in the second mountain stage.

“It’s my third year now at the team and I have always loved riding here, I feel home,” he said. “It’s nice to be riding in a Belgian team and I also like the project it stands for. This was also my team in the youth category. That they have given me the chance to become pro, is something that I kept in my mind when I made this decision. In the meantime I proved that I’m worth their trust and I have grown. I’m glad to keep evolving in this team.”

According to Lotto Belisol team manager Marc Sergeant, he sees a lot of potential in the 27 year old. “Bart De Clercq is a rider we definitely wanted to have in our team for the next years. He’s Belgian, it’s only his third season as pro and according to us he still has the abilities to grow much. In his first year as pro he won a Giro stage and both in Giro and Vuelta he’s proven to be a good climber.

“Also in this Tour he’s an ideal team player: In the mountain stage to Bagnères-de-Bigorre he showed his capacities, but he has also ridden many kilometers at the head of the peloton in support of André Greipel. It’s up to us to draw his path for the upcoming seasons together with him.”

Listing his goals, De Clercq states that he wants to keep improving over the next two years, and also to clock up another pro win. “I’ll already pursue that goal in the rest of this Tour,” he said. “I also wish to further develop my climbing capacities. Apart from that I want to see what’s possible in the GC of the Grand Tours or if I should rather focus on stage wins.”

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