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"The team could cheer 21 times this season contrary to forty times last season. In advance, we knew that obtaining the same number of victories as 2015 was almost not feasible."

Photo: A.S.O.

LOTTO SOUDAL

TEAM PROFILE
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NEWS
13.11.2016 @ 09:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The 2016 season was a mixed one for Lotto Soudal. Below manager Marc Sergeant looks back on the past season and reflects on the ups and downs.

 

Two stage wins in the Tour

The two stage wins in the Tour de France are without any doubt the highlights of the past season: Thomas De Gendt triumphing on the Mont Ventoux and the victory of André Greipel on the Champs-Elysées. If, as a team, you can chose two stages you would like to win, it are certainly these two. The victory of Thomas on the Mont Ventoux captured everyone’s imagination, despite the stage being shortened. That day, André Greipel was a part of the breakaway together with his teammate. For André, the Tour didn’t go smoothly but in the end he sprinted towards the prestigious stage win on the Champs-Elysées for the second year in a row. As a team we agreed that during the three weeks, we would support André and so we did. Since 2011, we won at least one stage in the Tour, a beautiful result.

 

Spring

The spring was marked by bad luck and a lot of crashes. Both Jelle Wallays and André Greipel crashed in the Tour of the Algarve in February. That crash forced André to withdraw three weeks later in Paris-Nice, he had broken three ribs. Jens Debusschere fell in Ghent-Wevelgem while he was in good shape. A few days earlier he had won Dwars door Vlaanderen. Due to a crash, the Tour of Flanders ended abruptly for Tiesj Benoot. Thus we hoped for good results in the Ardennes classics where we expected Tony Gallopin, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens to play an important role. Unfortunately, we did not book any good result. In the Amstel, Tim Wellens did his utmost to arrive solo but the headwind and a chasing peloton put a spanner in the works. Nonetheless, it was a very strong effort and he eventually finished tenth.

21 victories

 

The team could cheer 21 times this season contrary to forty times last season. In advance, we knew that obtaining the same number of victories as 2015 was almost not feasible. 21 victories is of course a lot less but they are without any doubt of good quality. We obtained 10 World Tour victories. Apart from two stage wins in the Tour, we also achieved success in the Giro. André Greipel sprinted three times towards the victory and Tim Wellens magnificently won a mountain stage. A stage win in the Vuelta would have made it complete. The Vuelta was a real disappointment. The entire autumn was no success regarding the results. Last season, we won the Eneco Tour with Tim Wellens and André Greipel was the best in Hamburg, thus we obtained valuable WorldTour points. But this season the performances during autumn were very poor. Anyway, this season we won ten World Tour races. Moreover, during spring Jens Debusschere booked a beautiful win at Dwars door Vlaanderen. André Greipel became German champion for the third time in his career, which is always an honour. The same day we just failed to obtain the title in Belgium and in France where Tim Wellens and Tony Gallopin had to settle for silver. Other podium places were for Tiesj Benoot (third in Omloop het Nieuwsblad), Jürgen Roelandts (third in Milan-Sanremo) and Tony Gallopin (second in Clásica San Sebastián). These performances are certainly worth mentioning.

 

Riders who leave and newcomers in 2017

Next season, we welcome five new riders at Lotto Soudal. Nikolas Maes brings us a lot of experience and Moreno Hofland is fast. Then, three new riders will debut as a professional with us. Enzo Wouters and James Shaw are from our own U23 team. Also Rémy Mertz, from the French-speaking part of Belgium, will take his first steps as a pro.

 

While new riders are joining the team, others are leaving us. Despite the fact that Greg Henderson had already mentioned some time ago he wanted to end his career, he will race one more year. However, we decided that he would no longer be part of our team. As from 2017, Pim Ligthart will ride for a Dutch team. He will defend the colours of Roompot where he will probably be able to ride for his own account regularly. Gert Dockx, who has done a lot of work the past six seasons, will neither be a member of the team next year.

 

Stig Broeckx

The crash of Stig Broeckx in the Tour of Belgium and its consequences are a jet black page in the history of our team and in my career as a manager. This incident has deeply marked all the riders and the staff members. Stig will always be one of us no matter what. Together with his girlfriend, family and doctors we hope that, by taking small steps, he will be able to lead a decent life, as his parents communicated earlier.

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