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"I come with a good feeling. If someone wins from the team, the classics have succeeded. I feel at least stronger than last year. The Brabantse Pijl was good and we also showed that we are a strong team. "

Photo: A.S.O.










16.04.2016 @ 15:32 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) hopes to play a major role in the Amstel Gold Race. "I feel stronger than last year and we have a good team at the start," the 24-year old Belgian said on Friday at a press conference in Maastricht.


"Last year I was hoping for a place in the top ten in the climbing classics, but it is difficult to stick to a result," said Wellens. "Maybe I come with a good feeling from the classics without a blip as to the result. Or if someone wins from the team, even the classics have succeeded. I feel at least stronger than last year. The Brabantse Pijl was good and we also showed that we are a strong team. "


Wellens hopes to be good both in the Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. "Liège-Bastogne-Liège is for me the most difficult and the most beautiful. The Amstel Gold Race, positioning is critical. Of all the climbing classics Amstel is the most nervous. You have to constantly pay attention and stay focused. Last year I had a good feeling at the start of the final climb of the Cauberg, but when I went, I immediately felt heavy legs. That was a disappointment. The tactics for Sunday we have to decide in the coming days. "


Leading up to the climbing classics Wellens else has tackled this year. "Last year I went with teammate Tony Gallopin to altitude training in Tenerife. Thus, I was good in the Basque Country. Now I have trained differently and my peak hopefully comes at the right time. I do not think it is possible to combine a good Tour of the Basque Country with a top condition in the classics. I hope in the coming week, this approach will reward me.”


Tiesj Benoot "Amstel Gold Race suits me best"


After his heavy crash in the Tour of Flanders, Tiesj Benoot is keen to get back on track. “Of all the races in the spring, the Amstel Gold Race perhaps suits me the best", he says confidently.


For Benoot, it will be his first encounter with the Amstel Gold Race. "That race is of course quite different from the Flemish ones, where I know every slope. As I rode the world championship for juniors in Valkenburg in 2012, I do know the last loop of the race. But the rest is a maze. I will contest another look last year and in principle, the Amstel course is the best one for me this spring.”


The traces of his fall in the Tour of Flanders are still visible on the face and on the elbow, but Benot no longer rides with pain. "The stitches are out and I barely notice", he says. "The enthusiasm in order to make something of this spring is great. We'll see Sunday if I have good condition. In Paris-Roubaix I felt still good, even though I could not really test myself in the final."


Fatigue, there is no question yet. "I'm currently not tired. Last year I rode in Denain and then I felt fine after Paris-Roubaix. Greg Van Avermaet proved last year that it is possible. And if Sagan wanted to, he could win Sunday with the condition he has now. So I think especially that it is a mental thing and in that respect I should be alright. "


Jelle Vanendert: "A lot of confidence for Sunday"


With Paris-Nice, Milan-Sanremo, four stages in the Basque country and the Brabantse Pijl in the legs, Jelle Vanendert is ready for the Ardennes. “Given my performances in recent weeks, I can not help but start Sunday with confidence in the Amstel Gold Race,” the Belgian says.


Of all the climbing classics, Vanendert has the best memories of the Amstel Gold Race, where he was second in 2012 and 2014. "But I would still love to win it," laughs Vanendert. "The confidence is there, the Cauberg is me and I know the course well. Moreover, we start with a strong team. I'm sure of a good result. I find it especially regrettable that big loop which is in the final for several years. the wider roads can often return many people, which does not always end up with the best riders in front. "


The tactic for Vanendert sounds simple. "Wait, wait and wait again. That's all I can do. That team is strong, this is a big advantage. We can be represnted in different ways. The previous years. I was trapped in one kind of tactic. Now we belong to the stronger blocks in the final. That was already evident in the Brabantse Pijl. We were never driven on the defensive."


A real top favorite, Vanendert cannot determine. "Also, BMC has no clear favorite in the ranks. Maybe they want to break the race open early. Orica-GreenEdge I can see working. They aim for their fast men Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews," said Vanendert, who is still at its 31 longs for a big classic win. "If I can add a classic to my record, I've got the maximum out. But 31 is not old. I would certainly still have some years left to get that big win."




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