Steff Cras talks about his selection for the Tour de France. “A dream come true”
The team was looking for a rider of my profile. Someone who can help during the flat part and who can stay with Caleb in the mountains.
From Sunday 9 June until Sunday 16 June, Lotto Soudal will take part in the Critérium du Dauphiné. This French WorldTour stage race, spread over eight stages, is considered to be the perfect preparation for the Tour de France, which starts on Saturday 6 July. With three stages on a hilly course , two flat days, an individual time trial and two summit finishes, the riders will get a first tough test in their lead-up to the Tour de France.
This 71st edition will start in Aurillac and end one week later in Champéry, Switzerland. The first two stages will be very hilly. The third stage can either end in a sprint finish or a breakaway that makes it to the finish. Wednesday 12 June, an individual time trial of 26.1 kilometres is scheduled. On day five and six, the peloton will face another flat and hilly race before heading to the mountains. The last two stages will be decisive for the general classification. The penultimate stage will take the peloton to the top of ‘Montée de Pipay’, a nineteen kilometres long climb with an average incline of 6.9%. The final stage to Champéry is only 113.5 kilometres long and will probably show the spectators an exciting race!
The British rider Geraint Thomas won the Critérium du Dauphiné last year. Lotto Soudal also achieved some good results with amongst others a third place in the team time trial. Sports director Herman Frison talks about the plans and ambitions they have this year.
Herman Frison: “Every year, the Critérium du Dauphiné is a hard stage race. Almost all general classification riders of the Tour de France show up for this WorldTour race. In my opinion, there’s only one stage that can lead to a mass sprint. I consider the other stages to be more suitable for those who perform well uphill. That’s the reason why so few sprinters will compete in this race.”
“The Tour de France remains our priority. Carl Fredrik Hagen and Bjorg Lambrecht will be given a free role in the Critérium du Dauphiné, because we don’t want to put pressure on them. Our strategy is to ride offensively and see where it takes us. The main goal is to win a stage. Hagen and Lambrecht are the guys for the general classification, but once again: there’s no pressure!”
“If it would come to a sprint in a reduced group, we still have a chance with Jens Keukeleire. Most stages are rather short, although there is one of 220 kilometres long without any flat parts, which allows us to ride offensively. Just think of Sander Armée or maybe Bjorg Lambrecht who could possibly make it to the breakaway.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Sander Armée, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Jens Keukeleire, Bjorg Lambrecht, Tomasz Marczyński, Rémy Mertz and Harm Vanhoucke.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.
Stage 1 Sunday 9 June: Aurillac – Jussac (142 km)
Stage 2 Monday 10 June: Mauriac – Craponne-sur-Arzon (180 km)
Stage 3 Tuesday 11 June: Le Puy-en-Velay – Riom (177 km)
Stage 4 Wednesday 12 June: Roanne – Roanne (ITT-26.1 km)
Stage 5 Thursday 13 June: Boën-sur-Lignon – Voiron (201 km)
Stage 6 Friday 14 June: Saint-Vulbas – Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne (229 km)
Stage 7 Saturday 15 June: Saint-Genix-les-Villages – Les Sept Laux-Pipay (133.5 km)
Stage 8 Sunday 16 June: Cluses – Champéry (113.5 km)