WorldTeam Meet the Lotto Soudal youngsters: Pro debut for Viktor Verschaeve at Ronde van Limburg
For Viktor Verschaeve, who turned pro at Lotto Soudal this year, it was a long wait until his first race as a professional cyclist. The 22-year-old Belgian had to postpone his professional debut for several months due to a groin injury. After a long rehabilitation, Verschaeve will ride his first race at the Ronde van Limburg. Time to get to know the climber from Brasschaat.
"I am really looking forward to get racing but it’s also very nerve-racking and exciting. I had an operation on my groin in December because of a constricted femoral artery - something that often troubles riders because of a bad cycling position - and after my injury I’ll have to wait and see what my first race as a pro will bring. The operation went smoothly, but I do feel on the bike that it is not perfect yet. I am working hard to let my muscles grow and develop again. We'll have to wait and see how everything goes, but I'm really looking forward to the race on Monday. I want to build up confidence again. I’m not yet interested in results, I just want to evolve into the rider I want to be", Viktor Verschaeve begins.
Not his grandfather nor his father encouraged Viktor Verschaeve to start cycling, but his brothers did. Verschaeve put away his running shoes and became addicted to his race bike.
"The cycling bug wasn’t in our family. At home, we were encouraged to do sports. I practiced athletics and my brothers cycled. I noticed that the atmosphere at cycling was much more pleasant, so I quickly made the switch to cycling. At first, my brothers had to drag me to training but I was lucky that many friends in the neighbourhood also started cycling. Brent Van Moer and I have been cycling together in the same team since we were teenagers. A nice training group ensured that I quickly became addicted to my road bike. When one of us won, the other wanted to win as well, we stimulated each other and we still do that today", adds Verschaeve.
"Because Brent and I have been training together for years, the transfer to the WorldTeam went smoothly", says Verschaeve. "Unfortunately I wasn't able to participate at the team training camp in January because of my injury. In the Development Team we often rode with the pros, so we knew more or less what to expect. Of course the transition remains exciting, but the familiar surroundings made the integration within the team a little easier. I already knew a lot of people like Kurt Van de Wouwer and some of the riders. Together with the professional support, it made the transition to the pros really pleasant.”
The young rider from Brasschaat impressed last year with a stage at the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc and in 2019, Verschaeve won a stage at the Giro U23. Yet, Viktor rather dreams of winning a Walloon Classic. His second place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23 proves that he can dream about winning a Walloon Classic one day.
"I would love to win a Walloon classic. It seems even better than a stage in the Giro. I have been racing on Belgian roads for years and winning a race where you know every hill and corner by heart, must be fantastic. Although I am more a rider who performs optimally in good weather conditions. I guess I’ll have to learn to function better in Belgian weather", concludes Viktor Verschaeve.