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“Also Kris Boeckmans will participate. He returns to competition in the Handzame Classic, after that we’ll see. The goal is that Kris rides the first two stages in Catalonia and then he’ll go on a training week i...

Photo: Lotto Soudal

BART DE CLERCQ

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KRIS BOECKMANS

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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LOUIS VERVAEKE

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RAFAEL VALLS

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SANDER ARMEE

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THOMAS DE GENDT

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TOMASZ MARCZYNSKI

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TOSH VAN DER SANDE

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VOLTA A CATALUNYA

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18.03.2016 @ 23:17 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The Volta Ciclista a Catalunya will take place from Monday 21 March 2016 to Sunday 27 March 2016. The 96th edition of this stage race, which is part of the WorldTour, takes the riders in seven stages through the North of Spain. This race is something for the real climbers in the peloton because of its mountainous profile.

 

 

Bart De Clercq and Rafael Valls are part of the Lotto Soudal team. Riders Louis Vervaeke and Bart De Clercq and sports director Mario Aerts are looking forward to a tough week in Catalonia.

 

Louis Vervaeke said: “I’ve already been more than a week in Spain, in the house I share with Sean De Bie, Jasper Stuyven and Tim Wellens. This week I’m on my own, in that way I can optimally prepare myself. This is a splendid environment to do the final trainings before the Tour of Catalonia, last Wednesday I did a long training of six hours. There’s no specific way to prepare for a stage race, it’s just a matter of training in the mountains as much as possible. Long and tough endurance trainings are the key. It’s also very important to maintain the same weight in order to remain in perfect shape.

 

“This stage race is part of the WorldTour and that’s always a different type of race. All the great riders are present and they have a strong team. The big teams such as Team Sky or Tinkoff set a very high pace at the crucial moments, then you need to be attentive. Everyone will be in a good shape, so many riders will be able to play along in the finale.

 

"A good position on GC will be difficult for me, I’ll mainly support our leaders as well as I can. There are some stages which suit me and hopefully I can try something during these days. My housemates Jasper Stuyven, Sean De Bie and Tim Wellens already won a race this season. It’s my turn today, I already was close at the Tree Days of West-Flanders.

 

Bart De Clercq said: “I didn’t perform as I well as I would during the past Tirreno-Adriatico. In the stage on Thursday I almost lost one minute. Due to the cancelled queen stage on Sunday, that time loss appeared to be very bad with regard to the GC. The remaining stages were something for the sprinters or something for the punchers. Nevertheless, this Tirreno has been a good preparation for Catalonia, three stages of more than 200 kilometres were scheduled and that was very useful with next week in mind.

 

“Of all one-week stage races, the Volta Ciclista of Catalunya suits me best. It’s a race which contains a lot of long climbs without high gradients. Also the wide roads are a big advantage for me, I don’t like pushing. I start with ambition and want to ride a strong race. During the third stage, no one will be able to play hide-and-seek. This stage will certainly determine whether a top ten place is possible or not. Otherwise I’ll aim for a stage win the day after. I’m very motivated to give my all next week.

 

“I have good memories of the Tour of Catalonia. I finished third in the first stage last year and later that week I could wear the leader’s jersey for one day. If the first stage of this year with finish in Calella inspires me? Last year’s race was extraordinary and it will be difficult to repeat that performance. The other teams will be extra attentive and they won’t give the escapees too much space. I’ll have my chances later that week.”

 

Mario Aerts said: “The course is a bit tougher compared to previous years. First of all, we’re going to try to obtain a stage win. We have a few riders who can attack such as Tomasz Marczysnki and Thomas De Gendt. Also Louis Vervaeke will have his opportunities. For the sprints we have Tosh Van der Sande. Aiming for a good GC will be difficult, there are a lot of strong participants. Bart De Clercq and Rafael Valls are our leaders, they will be guided by Sander Armée and Vervaeke, who can go for a good position on GC as well.

 

“Also Kris Boeckmans will participate. He returns to competition in the Handzame Classic, after that we’ll see. The goal is that Kris rides the first two stages in Catalonia and then he’ll go on a training week in Calpe. But it will depend on how Kris is feeling, we absolutely put no pressure on him. The purpose of those two stages is to obtain race rhythm. We arrive in Spain on Sunday, later that day we’ll do a recon of the final 40 kilometres of the first stage. The whole team really looks forward to this race.”

 

Line-up Lotto Soudal: 

Sander Armée, Kris Boeckmans, Bart De Clercq, Thomas De Gendt, Tomasz Marczynski, Rafael Valls, Tosh Van der Sande and Louis Vervaeke.

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