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"Last year I finished fourteenth despite the crashes and back pain. I believe that without bad luck, big crashes or illness, I can secure myself a top ten place and play a role in the GC."

Photo: Lotto Soudal






18.08.2016 @ 16:38 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The 71st Tour of Spain starts on August 20 in Ourense. Lotto Soudal leaders Maxime Monfort and Bart De Clercq share their preview of the next three weeks. Both riders have participated in this Grand Tour several times: Monfort starts for the sixth time and for Bart De Clercq it will be his fifth Vuelta.


When Bart De Clercq found out that he wasn’t selected for the Tour de France, he had to set some new goals for the last part of the season. With the Tour de Pologne, the Tour de l’Ain and the altitude training in Livigno he could switch off the disappointment and focus on these races. For the Tour of Spain, De Clercq will try and reach a top ten place in the general classification.


"My preparations towards the Vuelta have been perfect and last year I finished fourteenth despite the crashes and back pain. I believe that without bad luck, big crashes or illness, I can secure myself a top ten place and play a role in the GC”, says a very motivated Bart De Clercq.


“I hope to be strong in the long climbs because the short but sharp uphill finishes aren’t really my speciality. Last year I noticed that I’m very strong in the last week when most of the other riders are struggling more. Let’s see if that will be the case again this year.”


Bart De Clercq cannot name one absolute favourite for the overall victory this year:


“Contador left the Tour de France pretty early in the race so he could switch his focus to the Vuelta much sooner than for example Froome. Froome just finished a very intensive period but Sky can also count on Mikel Landa, I think. And then there’s still Nairo Quintana and Valverde that should be taken into account”.


De Clercq also adds that the favourites should also watch out for some outsiders that nobody expects.



Maxime Monfort also aims for a good general classification:


“A lot of people ask me why I don’t just try to win some stages, but I’m a GC rider so that’s my focus. My goal in this Tour of Spain is a spot in the top fifteen and we’ll see what I can do in the second or third week. Maybe I can join a big breakaway and take some time on the riders right in front of me in the classification and, who knows, win a stage.”


Further on, Monfort is very happy with the team selection for the upcoming three weeks.


“We have a very homogenous team with riders for every type of stage. For less hilly stages with a sprint at the finish we have Tosh Van der Sande. The tough stages are perfect for riders like Bart De Clercq, Louis Vervaeke, Sander Armée and me. We also have some guys that can go pretty fast like Jelle Wallays, Thomas De Gendt and Adam Hansen.”


Maxime Monfort believes that with this team several stage wins and a good general classification are possible. The first important stage to mark is the team time trial on the first day of the Vuelta. Even though the team doesn’t have the absolute specialists in this discipline, Monfort hopes for a top ten place on Saturday.


“A good result on the first stage makes sure that the atmosphere in the team is good and gives us extra power for the next weeks”.


Furthermore, the Walloon rider is curious about how Louis Vervaeke will evolve in these three hard weeks.


“I think that, for Louis, the best thing to do in the Vuelta is to choose some stages to show his strength. That way he avoids the pressure of the GC but he still knows how it feels to ride a Grand Tour. The most important for Vervaeke is to finish the Vuelta so that he knows what it means to ride a bike for three weeks in a row. In the next years there’s enough time to improve himself as a GC rider.”



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