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"We can’t say that we should take control of the race but we have to be sure that we’re not facing unpleasant surprises. Anyways, with Gallopin and the other riders, we have some good chances to do something in the finales....

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ETOILE DE BESSÈGES

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GRAND PRIX CYCLISTE LA MARSEILLAISE

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JELLE VANENDERT

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JELLE WALLAYS

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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MAXIME MONFORT

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SANDER ARMEE

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SEAN DE BIE

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STIG BROECKX

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TONY GALLOPIN

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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28.01.2016 @ 17:03 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The European cycling year has just started with the Challenge Mallorca. The French season kicks off on Sunday, January 31 with GP La Marseillaise. The one-day race in the region of Marseille has three climbs this year (Pas de Couelle, Col de l’Espigoulier and Col des Crêtes) and the riders will return to the French city after 145 kilometres.

 

On February 3, Etoile de Bessèges will start in the city of Bellegarde. During this five-day stage race, the peloton will ride through a hilly landscape and on the last day there is an individual time trial of 11.9 kilometres in Alès.

 

The first stage is a 153 kilometres long and flat stage which will probably be decided by a sprint. The second day (also 153 kilometres long) has a hillier character, but once the peloton starts with the local laps, the course is once again flat and just like on day one, a sprint is the most probable outcome. During the third stage, the riders pass the Col de Trélis thrice, but in the following fifty kilometres the hilly course is replaced by a flat finale like in the previous stages. The last day before the final individual time trial, the cyclists will get to climb the Mur de Laudin three times. The finale of stage four is the final chance for riders to launch a late attack to be the first at the finish line. As mentioned before, the last day offers the individual time trial, which starts flat but the last kilometre and a half is uphill.

 

Last year these races were a perfect start of the season for Lotto Soudal: Pim Ligthart won in La Marseillaise and Gallopin and Boeckmans got second and third in Etoile de Bessèges.

 

“I think that the condition of the team is good, but still: training is training and racing is racing," Frederik Willems, sports director at Lotto Soudal, said. "Last year we were in the same situation and we ended up doing really well. The course of La Marseillaise is a little harder this year: they added an extra climb with a technical descent, but the last thirty kilometres stay the same. But we should wait for the first race. We can’t say that we should take control of the race but we have to be sure that we’re not facing unpleasant surprises. Anyways, with Gallopin and the other riders, we have some good chances to do something in the finales.

 

“Last year we performed well everywhere: we won la Marseillaise, then the first stage of Etoile de Bessèges and we were active all the time. Back then we had Boeckmans as our sprinter with us, and we don’t have someone like him with us now. We’ll have to attack more or we’ll wait until the finale where we can try something as a team. I think it’s important to act like a team to get good results.”

 

Lotto Soudal team: 

Sander Armée, Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Tony Gallopin, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert and Jelle Wallays.

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