Lotto-Soudal Cycling Team (Italy) – On Friday 4 May, the 101st edition of Giro d’Italia begins with a time trial of 9.7 kilometres in Jerusalem. Lotto Soudal can confirm which eight riders will defend the team’s colours until the last stage on Sunday 27 May in Rome. These are the names: Sander Armée, Lars Bak, Victor Campenaerts, Jens Debusschere, Frederik Frison, Adam Hansen, Tosh Van der Sande and Tim Wellens.
Sports director Bart Leysen gives some more insights in the line-up.
“When the route was unveiled it was immediately clear that Victor Campenaerts (26) would be part of our line-up as the Giro starts with a time trial. Victor meticulously prepared himself for the opening time trial in Jerusalem. This week he rode a good prologue in Romandie (Victor got fifth at 5 seconds of winner Michael Matthews, LTS), on a type of course that didn’t entirely suit him. With him we do aim for the pink jersey next week. It’s realistic that he conquers the pink jersey. The sixteenth stage is also a time trial, but then one of around 34 kilometres. He can aim for a stage win that day too.”
“We have one leader for the sprints and that’s Jens Debusschere (28). There are five to six sprint stages, including the second and third stage in Israel. We have faith in Jens. In the sprint stages we will fully aim for a sprint with the team. Tosh Van der Sande (27) will be the lead-out of Jens. He is very good at taking someone to the front in the chaos ahead of a sprint.”
“Adam Hansen (who turns 37 during the Giro) has had a good preparation on his twentieth consecutive Grand Tour. In the beginning of the season he didn’t perform as we had expected, but the past weeks he got himself ready for the Giro. Many eyes will be on him. I definitely see opportunities for him to attack, such as the first two stages on Sicily, but he will also play an important role in support of Jens Debusschere in the sprint stages. Also Lars Bak (38) will be a crucial factor on those days. You can always rely on him. He can pull a long time in the bunch during sprint stages, but he can also help the other riders. In certain stages he could take Tim Wellens to the front in the finale.”
“Tim Wellens (who turns 27 during the Giro) is very motivated to go to the Giro. He really wants to win another stage. There are many chances for him, because a lot of stages are suited for a break. We’ll decide later in which stages he will attack. The same goes for Sander Armée (32). His condition got better and better the past weeks, also he is ready for the Giro. He is a real survivor and in the Vuelta he was rewarded with a beautiful victory. Of course that’s no guarantee for this Giro, but it proves that he’s capable of winning a stage in a Grand Tour. That stage win at the Vuelta has also boosted his confidence. The KOM jersey isn’t a goal, I rather have that we win stages. But when you join breakaways, you can often pick up KOM points and so it’s possible that someone in our team does wear the KOM jersey during those three weeks.”
“Last but not least, there’s Frederik Frison (25), for whom it’s the first Grand Tour participation. It’s good for the evolution of a rider to ride a Grand Tour and he has the age to take on this adventure. We don’t put any pressure on him, he just needs to make sure that he can do his job for the team. If there’s an opportunity he can join a breakaway, but we don’t expect him to attack day after day. It’s important that he divides his energy over the entire Giro. Experienced riders such as Adam Hansen and Lars Bak will definitely guide him.”
“Apart from the sprint stages in which Jens Debusschere is our leader, we want to apply the same tactics as in last year’s Vuelta: attack. Because we don’t have any GC ambitions, we give every rider the chance to join a breakaway in the non-sprint stages. We aim for stage wins. It’s the first time a Grand Tour is ridden with teams of eight instead of nine riders. For teams with a sprinter and a GC rider that can raise the pressure on the riders. Breakaways will therefore get more chance of remaining ahead till the finish. In sprint stages we will need to find the necessary allies.”