Development New reinforcements for Lotto Soudal U23 and Lotto Soudal Ladies
Also next year, Lotto Soudal will give young talents the chance to further develop themselves. Eefje Brandt, Mieke Docx and Kylie Waterreus will defend the Lotto Soudal Ladies colours from next year. The Lotto Soudal U23 team will be reinforced by Jelle Harteel, William Junior Lecerf, Gianluca Pollefliet, Noah Vandenbranden and Vincent Van Hemelen. Earlier, it was announced that junior European time trial champion Alec Segaert will be added to the Development Team roster.
“The choices we made are quite obvious”, says Kurt Van de Wouwer, sports manager at the Lotto Soudal U23 and Lotto Soudal Ladies team. “We are always aiming for a good mix of climbers, sprinters and rouleurs, which we managed to do once again this year. Over the years, the results of our Development team have become a magnet for a lot of young riders and this virtuous circle sometimes enables us that we are one step ahead to attract the best talents.”
Third-year espoir Vincent Van Hemelen (20) has impressed with a strong season including some very consistent top results. He recently finished second overall at the Tour de Moselle and the Ronde van Vlaams-Brabant. At the Flanders Tomorrow Tour, Van Hemelen finished third on the general classification. Besides cycling, the youngster is also studying medicine.
18-year-old Jelle Harteel has had an impressive year so far, which was also noticed by the national coach as Harteel will be part of the Belgian selection at the junior world championships this Friday. As a rider suited to the Classics, the course in and around Leuven should be made for the youngster. This weekend, he won the second stage of the Keizer der Juniores. Harteel does not only limit himself to road racing, because the rider from Adinkerke can also be found racing his cross bike in the winter season. In 2018, he became Belgian cyclocross champion in his age category.
William Junior Lecerf (18) is a pure climber. He is also still active in cyclocross (as a junior, he managed to win the prestigious Druivencross Overijse in 2019), but this rather as a preparation towards the road season. This summer, the young Belgian finished third at the opening stage of the challenging Tour du Piémont Pyrénéen.
Gianluca Pollefliet (19) is a first-year U23 rider with a pair of fast legs. Several years ago, Pollefliet made the switch from BMX to road racing, which seems to become a successful move. As a first-year espoir, he immediately won his first race in the U23 category. At the Flanders Tomorrow Tour, he sprinted to runner-up on the closing stage. Pollefliet is also active on the track, recently he finished seventh in the elimination race at the European championships in Apeldoorn.
Noah Vandenbranden (18) is also an experienced track rider. At the past European championships, he obtained top ten places in the individual pursuit and the kilometre race. Also on the road, Vandenbranden already highlighted his capacities as a rouleur. At the Belgian U23 time trial championships – where current Lotto Soudal U23 rider Van Eetvelt conquered gold – Vandenbranden finished third.
“Also within the Lotto Soudal Ladies team, we aim for a good balance between the riders. That is why we will welcome Eefje Brandt, Mieke Docx and Kylie Waterreus next season. Eefje is a true rouleur and proved this recently by winning the Memorial Igor Decraene. Mieke is more of a climber’s type. Kylie is recovering from quite a severe injury but wants to take a step forward at our team next year”, explains Kurt Van de Wouwer.
19-year-old Eefje Brandt finished sixth at the Belgian U23 time trial championships in Koksijde. Recently, she highlighted her capacities as a rouleur by winning the prestigious Memorial Igor Decraene, where she beat amongst others current Lotto Soudal Lady Alana Castrique.
Mieke Docx (25) will also join the Lotto Soudal Ladies in 2022. The Belgian rider has a good pair of climbing legs, which she recently demonstrated with a nice top ten result at the Tour de l’Ardèche. She finished fourth at the Belgian road championships in 2019, where her then teammate and current Lotto Soudal rider Jesse Vandenbulcke took the title.
Kylie Waterreus (23) is more of a rider for the Classics. This year, a heavy crash on training threw a spanner in the works, but the Dutch rider is determined to come back stronger and gain experience at the Flemish Classics next season.