Sports director Bart Leysen about the Giro line-up


On Saturday 11 May, the 102nd edition of the Giro d’Italia kicks off with an individual time trial in Bologna. Lotto Soudal will be at the start with Victor Campenaerts, Caleb Ewan, Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Adam Hansen, Roger Kluge, Tosh Van der Sande and Jelle Vanendert. Sports director Bart Leysen talks about the course and the Lotto Soudal line-up.

Bart Leysen: “The Giro d’Italia starts with an individual test against the clock in which the riders will immediately face a tough climb at the end, so the guys with GC ambitions already need to go full gas. There is a realistic chance that a candidate for the overall victory will grab the first pink jersey. The Giro can be broken down into two main parts. The first week and a half, some long days in the saddle are scheduled with a variety of both sprint and hilly stages.”

“From day thirteen onwards, the general classification riders will come to the fore. For example stage sixteen - with finish in Ponte di Legno - includes the mighty Passo Gavia as well as the feared Mortirolo and will play a crucial role in the battle for GC. The sprinters are granted one last opportunity in stage eighteen because the following two days, the overall standings will take a decisive shape with another two brutal mountain stages coming up. The 102nd Giro ends with an individual time trial in Verona but will, in my opinion, not cause any significant changes in the general classification anymore.”

“With Caleb Ewan (24) we have a world-class sprinter in our line-up. The first week and a half, I reckon there are six chances where it could be a bunch sprint. We have to seize every opportunity in which Caleb Ewan could sprint for victory. The first stage - which includes some hills along the way - will immediately be a difficult task. However, the Australian has already proven countless times to do well on hilly terrain so we will do everything possible to make it a sprint in Fucecchio.”

“After a nasty crash in Paris-Nice, Jasper De Buyst (25) returned to competition in the Tour of Turkey. Jasper will act as the lead-out man in the sprint stages, not only during the Giro but also the rest of the season. Roger Kluge (33) will be the guide of Caleb Ewan. Contrary to the Tour de France, the finales of sprint stages in the Giro are with narrow roads and sharp turns often quite technical. Both Roger and Jasper know extremely well when it’s time to move to the front and they are able to deliver Caleb in a perfect position. Also Tosh Van der Sande (28) is a rider who - just like De Buyst and Kluge - can pick the right moment during the run-up to the sprint. Besides, a technical finale suits him very well and he can also more than handle himself uphill. Those qualities come in really handy when racing in Italy. Should Jasper De Buyst have a mechanical at the very end of the stage, Tosh is the right man to take over the role as lead-out.”

Victor Campenaerts (27) will, first and foremost, be targeting the three individual time trials. The final test again the clock maybe suits him best but the European time trial champion will also do everything he can to finish as close as possible in the first two ones. Campenaerts will of course be given the freedom to focus on the time trials but with his abilities, he could also play an important role – mainly in the first week - in bringing the sprint train to the front.”

“For Thomas De Gendt (32), the Giro will be the first of three Grand Tours this season. Thomas will, if necessary, do his part in the service of Caleb Ewan, but he will of course be granted a free role in the transitional stages and maybe in the high mountains. Most points for the mountain classification are to be gained in the final week but most of all, Thomas is more than capable to go for a stage victory.”

“During the first week, Jelle Vanendert (34) could help to ease the workload of the sprint train. Later, he will get a free role in the tougher stages. Adam Hansen (who turns 38 on the 11th of May) will start his 28th Grand Tour. Adam is a versatile rider and could do his thing - together with Jelle Vanendert - before the real sprint battle commences. Seen his many years of experience, the Australian could provide the necessary calmness in the hectic sprint stages. He also perfectly knows how to keep the early break in check.”

“Our Giro line-up has already gained a lot of Grand Tour experience and is very strong in general. I would be a happy man if we’d manage to take one stage victory but we need to dare to aim higher.”

We have to seize every opportunity in which Caleb Ewan could sprint for victory.