Development Important week for Lotto Soudal U23 rider Lennert Van Eetvelt
With Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23 tomorrow and the U23 World Championships road race in Flanders next Friday, Lennert Van Eetvelt (20) is at the start of an important week. Van Eetvelt earned his spot in the Belgian selection for the Worlds last Saturday, when he rode to a nice fifth place at the European Championships in Trento, won by his compatriot Thibau Nys.
“It’s just fantastic that the Belgian team conquered the European title”, begins Lennert Van Eetvelt. “I look back to the race with great satisfaction and I am happy with finishing fifth. Only three days prior to the race, I knew I would be racing as I replaced Louis Blouwe. I obtained a ninth spot in the time trial, which wasn’t my best day but I felt good during the road race. My job was to mainly support the team but as the Spaniards took control of the race, I didn’t need to work that much. That is why I got the freedom to attack in the final lap. We escaped with three riders but I felt I was the strongest and decided to go solo. Unfortunately, I was reeled in on the climb and from there, I gave my all to support Thibau. I could still hang on for fifth place, which was a nice result as well. So I had every reason to celebrate at the finish.”
The strong performance of the 20-year-old delivered him a spot in the six-man Belgian selection for the U23 World Championships road race, which consists of three Lotto Soudal riders as also Arnaud De Lie and Florian Vermeersch will take part in the battle for the rainbow jersey.
“It is great that I am being rewarded with a place in the World Championships selection. And this in Leuven, my city”, says an excited Lennert Van Eetvelt. “I went to school there for a couple of years and the fact that I can race my first Worlds in my own region, makes it even more special. As a junior, I was selected for the Worlds in 2019 but as I broke my hand, I couldn’t participate. That was a major disappointment. The course of the World Championships isn’t selective enough for me, but with the Belgian team we definitely have a shot at the rainbow jersey. The Dutch team will be fierce competitors and also the traditional cycling nations such as Germany, France, Italy and Spain will also be up there, without a doubt.”
Before the battle for the world title begins, the victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège for U23 riders is still at stake. And Lennert is confident he can pull off a big result.
“The course underwent a last-minute change. I thought the original course wouldn’t be tough enough for me because the final kilometres were less hard”, says Lennert Van Eetvelt. “Now the finish is atop La Redoute, which we have to climb twice in the final. If I have recovered well from the European Championships, I certainly have a shot at the victory. The ideal scenario would be that we get a hard race and we begin La Redoute with a select group. Our team is ready to ride a strong race!”
Line-up Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23: Arnaud De Lie, Ramses Debruyne, Liam Slock, Luca Van Boven, Aaron Van der Beken en Lennert Van Eetvelt.
Image: Maxime Van der Wielen.