Lotto Soudal U23 prepares the new season in Spain
Just as the previous years, the U23 team has headed to Benicasim for a two-week training camp.
The team has performed greatly in the past week. During the Tour de Solidarité in Poland, Alfdan De Decker sprinted twice to victory, in the second and fourth stage. Aaron van Poucke also finished third in the General Classification and won the jersey for the best young rider. In Belgium, Brent Van Moer soloed to victory in the inaugural Grand Prix Rik van Looy. Thomas Vereecken finished in the top ten of the GP Nogent-sur-Oise.
Tour de Solidarité
Lotto Soudal U23 performed greatly in this Polish stage race. On the first day, two stages were immediately scheduled for the riders. In stage one, Aaron van Poucke was part of a 17-man breakaway that finished two minutes in front of the peloton. Van Poucke sprinted towards the sixth place and this result formed the base for his third-place finish in the general classification. The evening stage on day one, however, was won by Alfdan De Decker. He was the fastest of a large group, in which the entire team was present. Alex Colman and Arne Marit also finished in the top ten of this stage. Stage three ended in a bunch sprint, with De Decker getting the eleventh place. The day afterwards, in stage four, he was the strongest of the peloton on a tough finish. Lotto Soudal was once again present in the front of the race. Van Poucke and Colman were part of a breakaway that made it to the finish line. Van Poucke only just missed out on the victory and finished second, while Colman was sixth. On the final day, Aaron van Poucke moved up to the third place in the GC and won the blue jersey as the best young rider in the race.
GP Rik van Looy
In Belgium, the team was present in the inaugural Grand Prix Rik van Looy, a new race for U23 riders. The race started with incredible speed and there were several attacks. However, no breakaway group could distance the peloton for long. Deep in the second half of the race, two riders successfully managed to set up a breakaway, but they were equally caught by a larger pursuing group when the finale started. Several Lotto Soudal U23 riders were present in this group from which Brent Van Moer escaped with six kilometres remaining, together with two other riders. Van Moer eventually went solo and finished the race a few seconds in front of the Niels De Boele and Jelle Schuermans. Julian Mertens Sprinted to a fifth place.
On Sunday, the GP Nogent-sur-Oise was scheduled for the team; a 168-kilometre race, divided over seven laps of 24 kilometres, which made for a very attacking race. Ward Jaspers and Thomas Vereecken were both very active in the first half of the race. With two laps remaining, Thomas Vereeckend was part of a front group of twelve and which would be the decisive attack. The French riders Antomarchi and Guichard proved to be the strongest rider in this front group, as they set up a duo-attack in the final lap and finished in first and second place. Vereecken’s strong race was awarded with an eighth place.