Today Dwars Door Vlaanderen is scheduled to take place, in spite of the terrorist attacks in Brussels. The 200 KM race will cover twelve hills and three cobbled sections.
The race starts with a long run-up of 90 kilometres before the riders climb the first hill, which is the Nieuwe Kwaremont. Then, the races countinues towards the Kattenberg and the cobbled sections Holleweg and Haaghoek. Next, the riders will arrive at the most important part of the race.
In the final 80 kilometres ten hills need to be climbed, including the Taaienberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. These are expected to have the most impact on the outcome of the race. The final hill, Nokereberg, is situated at eight kilometres from the finish, which is again in the centre of Waregem.
Last year the winner was Jelle Wallays from Lotto Soudal. The Belgian based team will hope to replicate their performance from 2015.
Sports director Frederik Willems says that: “It’s a very nice course. A lot of the hills are also part of the course of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. At Dwars door Vlaanderen, it’s very important to be attentive at the front starting from the Eikenberg and Taaienberg, where there will be a first selection. Then it’s about thirteen kilometres to the Oude Kwaremont and there the race will explode. Several riders will certainly try to attack and then we need to react.”
Lotto Soudal will have a strong team which includes last year`s winner Jelle Wallays. Alongside him will ride, among others, Jens Debusschere and Tiesj Benoot.
“A lot of riders are in a very good form and that’s also necessary with regard to the coming races. We start with a strong team and we have a few leaders who can be present in the finale. That’s an advantage, the more riders a team has in a finale, the better. Other teams can pull at the front of the peloton but nevertheless we’ll have to be attentive at the front. When someone attacks from BMC or Etixx – Quick-Step we have to be there as well.”, says sports director Frederik Willems.
The Lotto Soudal sports director is also confident regarding his teams` ability in various end race scenarios:
“Guys like Tiesj Benoot and Jelle Wallays are able to attack or react on attempts from other teams. If a sprint takes place, we have a strong rider like Jens Debusschere. We lost some useful riders such as Gert Dockx, Stig Broeckx and Frederik Frison due to crashes, that’s a pity. But luckily our team consists of enough strong riders so we’re able to handle that.”
Of course, Jelle Wallays really looks forward to this race and he wants to show himself in the shirt of Lotto Soudal. Wallays rides again in his home region and that is always a reason to be extra motivated as he states himself.
Jelle Wallays: “The feeling to ride in your home region is just incredible. I really like it when a lot of fans are standing along the course. Their encouragements really make you perform better. The next three races are partly held in West-Flanders and that’s fantastic. I look forward to Wednesday, it’s a race which suits me. I’ll certainly make the best of it.”
Line-up for Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Sean De Bie, Jasper De Buyst, Jens Debusschere, Pim Ligthart, Marcel Sieberg and Jelle Wallays.
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