Development Lotto Soudal U23 counts down the days till the first races
The U23 team of Lotto Soudal has had a successful three-day training camp. On Friday, they did a recon of the Flèche Ardennaise, which will normally be the first race of the season for our Development Team on Sunday 9 May. Past Saturday, they rode the last 80 kilometres of the U23 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and on Sunday they trained in the East Cantons.
Kurt Van de Wouwer, manager Lotto Soudal development Team: “We hope we can finally start racing on 9 May, that’s why this was the perfect moment to get together with the group for a training weekend. Everyone gave a good impression on the bike, but of course you always have to wait how they react in competition. Although it was obvious that they have maintained a good condition the past months. On Sunday, the guys did some moto pacing and you could see they are keen to race!”
“There was an excellent atmosphere. Because of Covid the annual training camp in February in Spain was cancelled and the riders had only one group training, at the end of February. Still, they already form a coherent group. Also for the team spirit it was important to spend a few days together.”
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Without any further changes, the Flèche Ardennaise will be held on 9 May. The next race will be the GP Vermarc on 15 May, where a mixed team of U23 riders and pros from Lotto Soudal will take the start and on 19 May the U23 riders will race in Ruddervoorde. On 30 May the first race of the U23 Road Series, the GP Color Code, is scheduled. It’s a series of races in Belgium and the Netherlands. From 3 until 12 June our team will participate in the Giro for U23 riders.
Kurt Van de Wouwer: “We are now working towards the start of the competition in May, but of course nothing is sure these days. We had a balanced programme, but because of the changes on the calendar certain races will now be held at the same time. There will often be a double programme in the last months of the season, so we can only hope to be spared from bad luck.”
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“Of course we want to do well at the Belgian Championships and it’s our goal to win several UCI races and a few stages in stage races. When the Giro kicks off, our riders will only have done a limited number of races. In Italy and France U23 riders were able to race and this means our riders have a disadvantage, but we won’t be using that as an excuse to hide ourselves behind. We will go to Italy with ambition, but it wouldn’t be wise neither to put too much pressure on the boys.”
“The fact that both last year and this year a large part of the season was paused, definitely has an impact on the development of the riders, especially on those who came from the junior level. It’s experience they miss out on, but because many races are rescheduled, that can hopefully be partially compensated”, concludes Kurt Van de Wouwer.