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“The silver medal of Bjorg Lambrecht at the European Championships and the victory of Harm Vanhoucke at Il Lombardia were the highlights of this season."

Photo: A.S.O.


13.11.2016 @ 08:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The U23 team of Lotto Soudal performed very strongly the past season with some beautiful victories. That this young team, with eleven first-year and seven second-year U23 riders, would do so well was unexpected. Also for sports director Kurt Van de Wouwer.


“We started this season with a lot of new riders in the team and mainly first-years," he siad. "Our riders really exceeded the expectations. The guys surprised us, and themselves, by performing so strong and by achieving some beautiful victories. When they entered the U23 category they didn’t know what to expect. They are getting better thanks to each other, there is a healthy dose of competition. If your teammates perform well, you want to do that as well.”


There were already some nice victories in the first half of the season. Edward Planckaert won Gent-Staden, Michael Goolaerts finished first in Brussels-Zepperen and on the third stage of the Loir-et-Cher, while Bjorg Lambrecht won a stage and the GC at Ronde de l’Isard. Edward Planckaert got fifth in Paris-Roubaix. James Shaw claimed the same spot in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Later down the year there were even more great results. Joachim Vanreyten won the Belgian Championships, Bjorg Lambrecht won silver at the European Championships and Harm Vanhoucke was the first Belgian ever to win the U23 edition of Il Lombardia. Last weekend Robbe Ghys won the scratch at the Track World Cup in Glasgow.


Kurt Van de Wouwer added:


“The silver medal of Bjorg Lambrecht at the European Championships and the victory of Harm Vanhoucke at Il Lombardia were the highlights of this season. Top teams and top riders take part in Il Lombardia and when you know that this is the first season of Harm in the U23 category, it’s an even more remarkable performance. Bjorg Lambrecht stood on the podium as well that day as he finished third. Bjorg definitely had a share in the victory of his teammate. Last year Bjorg already showed what he was worth as a junior, also on Eurpean level, but it’s not easy to score immediately as a U23 rider. At the beginning of the season he already won a stage and the GC at Ronde de l’Isard and performed very consistently the entire year.


“The performances of Bjorg and Harm are remarkable, but we had a strong team in general. That’s also proven by our victory of the Lotto Top Competition. It’s the fifth year in a row that we won the team classification. The Top Competition is always a goal for us. We took the lead in the first race and didn’t give it away anymore. There are nine races in the Top Competition, among those the Belgian Championship team time trial which we won this year. We didn’t win one of the races, although we came close. Enzo Wouters was second in the Memorial of Coningsloo where he got beaten by Timothy Dupont in the sprint. The same scenario was repeated in the Havenpijl.


“Next year, five of our riders become pro. James Shaw and Enzo Wouters will join our WorldTour team. Kevin Deltombe and Edward Planckaert go to Topsport Vlaanderen and Michael Goolaerts will ride for Veranda’s Willems. As a team we are very proud to see them take this step.”



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