Gerben Thijssen in stable condition
Lotto Zesdaagse Gent
On Saturday 6 July, the 106th edition of the Tour de France will start in Brussels. Lotto Soudal will go to the Tour with these eight riders: Tiesj Benoot (25), Jasper De Buyst (25), Thomas De Gendt (32), Caleb Ewan (24, turns 25 on 11 July), Jens Keukeleire (30), Roger Kluge (33), Maxime Monfort (36) and Tim Wellens (28). Sports manager Marc Sergeant talks about the Tour de France line-up of Lotto Soudal.
Marc Sergeant: “It was not that difficult to get our Tour de France selection on paper. I think we chose the strongest possible team. The Tour is about three topics: sprint stages, days for escapees and mountain stages. Only during the days in the mountains, it won’t be easy for us to take a stage win and attacking will be the mindset of Lotto Soudal during those stages. Even though some riders already announced they won’t participate, we don’t have any real ambitions for the general classification. We are fully aiming for a stage victory.”
“Caleb Ewan will be at the start of the Tour for the first time in his career, but he will put the necessary pressure on himself. With already three stage wins in the Giro and one in the Vuelta, I think the ambition to also win a Tour stage, will come automatically. During the sprint preparation, Caleb will be perfectly supported by amongst others Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge but by the other Lotto Soudal riders as well.”
“At a certain moment in the race, the sprint teams need to take responsibility and that is why we selected Maxime Monfort. He will need to lead the peloton during the sprint stages. Of course, Maxime is also free to do his own thing in the other stages, but he will have to spend some more energy during the sprint stages, contrary to our other riders with a free role.”
“Jens Keukeleire can - just like Benoot and Wellens - contribute to the sprint preparation. It is clear to me that during a sprint stage, the other seven Lotto Soudal riders will support Ewan. But in the other stages, Caleb can also help our attackers like Benoot, De Gendt and Wellens. In that sense, everybody works for everyone during the Tour de France.”
“Let us begin to say that it is our ambition to win one stage. However, my experience has taught me that once the first stage victory arrives, a second one follows a bit easier. So, the faster we could win a first one, the better for us. The opening stage immediately is an opportunity to do so and we will try to use it. And if not, we will shift focus towards the following stages.”
Tour de France line-up Lotto Soudal: Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Caleb Ewan, Jens Keukeleire, Roger Kluge, Maxime Monfort and Tim Wellens.