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"I often compare myself with Tim Wellens:. Attack and keep trying. I have often been told that I did a stupid race, but I think it's the best way to ride. Against the pros I will now have to think more, because the details make a d...

Photo: Sirotti






20.12.2014 @ 07:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

In 2015 Lotto Soudal have again given some talented Belgians the chance to turn professional. With Louis Vervaeke and Tiesj Benoot, the Belgian team has a few rough diamonds. Sporza had a chat with the talented Lotto duo.


For Louis Vervaeke (21), it was never evident that he would be a bike rider. "I have tried many other sports: Football, tennis. But thanks to my grandfather, I ended up in cycling. He taught me to watch the racing. That way  I've seen how beautiful cycling is," he told Sporza.



"It is strange that I continued to ride. As a 14-year old rider, I was already dropped after a few laps and I was taken out of the race at the midpoint. It was only in my second year at the newcomer level that I started to improve, especially when I began to grow. I did well as a junior but it seemed impossible to turn professional.


He showed his takent in the Tour de l'Avenir where he won a stage after a great solo performance. That has created certain expectations. "Romain Bardet said "Chapeau" to me. It feels good, but I feel no real pressure. It's also good to get to the pros with expectations but without being known by the rivals."


How would Vervaeke describe himself? "I see myself as a stage race rider, but I'm not the guy who makes a good move at the last minute. . Look at my victory in the Tour de l'Avenir: Attack and ride way.


"I often compare myself with Tim Wellens:. Attack and keep trying. I have often been told that I did a stupid race, but I think it's the best way to ride. Against the pros I will now have to think more, because the details make a difference.


"I'm still the same Louis. The next step is to be a good pro rider but I do not feel more special than anyone else. I'm one step closer to my real dream: to win the Tour."



At the end of last season, Louis Vervaeke did a few races with the pros and showed that he is able to be up there. It seems that neo-pros are now able to make an impact right from the beginning.


"Everything is now a lot more clean. In the Tour, riders from the 90s are still there. The young people can compete immediately after the turn professional. In the past, there were still talents but the older riders were too strong.




"At the training camp, André Greipel told me that he was always dropped when he turned pro.That was hard for him. He even wanted to retire. I can not believe that. I can not imagine how hard it is to have been one of the best U23 riders and then get dropped.


"That I speak so openly about it? We grew up with that. That was hard because my idols from the past that are no longer there. Now I look at the young French generation and someone like Tim Wellens. I will put my hand in the fire for Tim."


With Tiesj Benoot (20), Lotto Soudal has a real talent in their ranks. But Benoot was not destined to become a cyclist. "I played soccer for six years. My family didn't really want me to be a bike rider," Benoot explains.



"But I continued and with cycling I found my thing. I was pretty good at football too. I was even tested by AA Gent, but I didn't see myself as a goalkeeper."


Benoot chose the bike and in 2015 he will try to make an impact on the Flemish spring. "I will mainly do the smaller races. Everything is well organized. The team may think they can use me anywhere, but that may have a negative impact on my body in the long term.


"Therefore I need to find out what I can do. I look forward to discovering my limits. I have a better understanding of my body every year and am looking forward to the coming years."


Benoot already feels at home at Lotto Soudal. "In the big races, I can learn from the top, but in the other race I will get a chance. I learnt that this year where I rode as a stagiaire.. The top group at Lotto is not so big. As a young Belgian, I  will get a chance so I am in the right place."



At 20 years of age, Benoot has already signed a professional contract. But the Lotto rider remains very modest. "I have often been told that I must keep my feet on the ground. But I also study and that helps.


"That's a nice combination. I'm studying now because I want to do it. I stody Applied Economics but I am not following all the courses.


"Cycling is most important but the team has also encouraged me to study. And I have friends from outside the cycling would. They make sure that I keep my feet on the ground."



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