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“In the beginning of the race I didn’t feel very well, maybe because it were the first race kilometres of the season. The legs got better further down in the race."

Photo: Lotto Soudal






01.02.2015 @ 21:10 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Lotto Soudal has won for the first time this season. Pim Ligthart won the Grand Prix la Marseillaise today, a Europe Tour race. The Dutchman beat Kenneth Vanbilsen and Antoine Demoitié.


Five escapees, among them Frederik Veuchelen, were keen to start the season. They gathered up to eight minutes lead, but the bunch kept control. The entire race Lotto Soudal was positioned in the front rows of the peloton. The battle really started with about fifty kilometres to go, when counterattacks were set up. Tosh Van der Sande and Vegard Breen both jumped away in one of those attempts. This made the gap decrease and after the last climb of the day a new front group was formed. This time eight riders rode in front, Sean De Bie was one of them. The 23-year-old attacked with one kilometre to go. A few hundred metres further he was caught by a reduced peloton. Teammate Pim Ligthart sprinted to the victory, the first win for Lotto Soudal. Ligthart beat last year’s winner Kenneth Vanbilsen.


“The season couldn’t have started better,"he said. "I trained hard this winter and it’s fantastic I immediately benefit from it. Sean De Bie attacked in the final, there was headwind, and three riders joined him. Four others bridged. Our team was relaxed in the bunch and I could save my strengths. Cofidis led the chase and the escapees got caught. I was well positioned and started the sprint. I looked next to me a few times and didn’t see anyone passing by, so I started to believe in it. It’s really nice to win this way.


“In the beginning of the race I didn’t feel very well, maybe because it were the first race kilometres of the season. The legs got better further down in the race. The team really took control. I hope to continue this way, the condition is good. This was the first victory of the season, my first win for this team. I hope that this gives a boost to the team, starting in the Etoile de Bessèges next week."


"The final was a bit special for me," he added to Directvelo. "I did not know if the race would end in a sprint or not. Until the very last kilometers, there was a breakaway with one of my teammates, Sean De Bie. We came back in the final. 


"Meanwhile, I already had to dig deep to stay in the top positions over the Col de la Gineste. But the fact that there is the headwind on the Gineste played in my favor because it was less difficult to hold on to the wheels. Kris Boeckmans was to be the sprinter of the team, but as he was not there in the finale, I tried my luck. I knew there was a headwind in the final straight, you should not start too soon. I stayed in the wheels as long as possible before launching my sprint with 200m to go. "



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