Belgian prodigy, Jens Keukeleire, eyeing U23 World Championships
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Belgian prodigy, Jens Keukeleire, eyeing U23 World Championships

by Jered Gruber at 12:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Neo-pro sensation heading to Melbourne as a top favorite

One of the major Belgian revelations of 2010, Cofidis's 21-year-old phenom, Jens Keukeleire, has his eyes set on one more major target for his already unforgettable first year in the professional ranks - the World Championships in Melbourne.

Had this been any other year, Keukeleire's chances of success in Melbourne would be dim at best. Keukeleire looks set to profit from the downgrading of his Cofidis team over the winter. Because Cofidis moved down from the ProTour ranks and assumed Professional Continental status, the winner of four pro races in 2010 can now take part in the Under-23 World Championships.

In a blazing two week period in March, the still only 21 year old rider won the 1.1 ranked Le Samyn, a stage and the overall at the 2.1 ranked Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, then capped it all off on St. Patrick's Day with the win at the 1.1 Nokere Koerse.

It would be silly to say that Keukeleire is anything but a top favorite for the rainbow stripes in Melbourne, and it's something that the native of Brugge is taking very seriously.

"The World Championships are my big goal of the year. It will be a special race with some young pros and a bunch of hopes."

The Belgian National Team has asked for help in preparing the young standout for his objective of a World Championship victory over the latter part of the season, and the team has granted permission for Keukeleire to race with the Belgian team at the upcoming Tour de l'Avenir ahead of Worlds in early September.

"On paper, the Australian course will be very exhausting, but I think it may suit me. I am obviously overwhelmed by the success of my first pro season, it has been more than I ever dared to imagine, I still hope to show more before the end of the year though."

While Keukeleire's neo-pro season is the stuff of dreams, his season hasn't been completely free of issue. The young rider crashed in training in June and broke a bone in his hand.

"I am recovered from my fall, although I still feel pain sometimes. After being ill for the Belgian Championships, I did a good training camp with Nico Sijmens in the Vosges Mountains before resuming racing with the Tour of Wallonia."

Keukeleire has recently returned to his successful sprinting ways with a 5th place in Stage 1 of the Tour of Wallonia in the final week of July, and then a 3rd place in Stage 3 on Saturday at the 2.2 Mi-Aout Bretonne.


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