Nikolas Maes Team Director Lotto Soudal
Nikolas Maes will be deployed in the spring and will take care of the youth in the team.
Lotto Soudal’s Tim Wellens claimed his second win of this year’s Tour of Spain in stage 14 from Lugo to Ourense (Galicia). In an uphill sprint, after a climb of almost two kilometers, Wellens won, from a small group, ahead of Michael Woods and Zdeněk Štybar. All three riders were part of a break of seven riders that was formed after some 40 km. With three third category climbs and rolling terrain throughout this was the ideal day for a break's survival.
"The goal of team Lotto Soudal was to win at least one stage in La Vuelta. After my first win in Sabiñánigo in stage 5 we hoped to win another one. I knew today was a stage that suits me very well. I was looking forward to this stage for a long time. One thing is to look forward to a stage, but another thing is to be in the right breakaway and have the legs to finish it off. Today everything went according to plan”, said Tim Wellens.
"This was not at all an easy victory. There was a big fight to get into the breakaway. When I succeeded to be in the right break, all of my companions were really strong guys. We rode a strong pace for the whole day. In the descent of the final climb we accelerated with three riders. I thought we were gonna stay in front till the finish, but the three others were able to return in our wheels."
Woods attacked 2.5 km from the summit on the last 3rd category climb, the Aldo de Abelaira. Périchon was distanced and Soler, Štybar and Wellens moved clear. When Dylan van Baarle, Woods and Thymen Arensman regained contact with the three leaders, with 1.3 km to go, an uphill sprint would decide about the victory.
The Canadian was also looking for his second win of the race and he stretched his companions to almost breaking point with around 700m to go but Wellens had enough in the tank to respond and he kicked with 400m remaining. Only Woods could manage to hold Wellens' pace but the Belgian not only had the faster acceleration but he also picked the best line and with no room to even think about passing inside the final 75m it was Wellens who lifted his arms to celebrate another victory.
"On the final climb I knew I had to take the final corner in first position”, said Tim Wellens. “I felt Michael Woods coming in my wheel but suddenly the finish appeared and I crossed the line first. The whole day I had the impression that Dylan Van Baarle was the strongest in the break. He is such a good rouleur. But when we speeded up on the climbs I noticed that also Woods and Soler had strong legs. I was a little afraid of Woods in the uphill sprint. That is why I wanted to start the sprint first to be able to take the final corner on the inside."
For Wellens, who extended his contract with Lotto Soudal one more year, this victory is his fourth Grand Tour stage win.