Lotto Soudal currently resides in the Rafa Nadal Sports Centre in Mallorca to prepare for the new, crucial season. The team has seven new riders and saw six boys other places to look. Caleb Ewan is the greatest transfer for the Belgian team and should be in the place of André Greipel to stage wins sure. But also Jens Keukeleire is out on revenge. The young Brent Nut represents an important transition year.
Caleb Ewan is keen on a strong 2019 to drive. “2018 was not a success”, the Australian. “Next season I want to do better.”
The 24-year-old Ewan didn’t immediately have a good season. Yes, he was second in Milan-Sanremo, after Vincenzo Nibali, but knew the veelwinnaar only three victories to his name, bring: a ride in the Tour Down Under, the Clasica Almeria and a stage in the Tour of Britain. Too little, he will find himself, though he added immediately that he was only 50 race days will be oddly on the counter. To the past he doesn’t want too much to watch, but his old team Mitchelton-Scott made it difficult for him in the last few months, when it became known that he in the direction of Lotto Soudal. It cost him his participation in the Tour de France, where he normally his debut would make, and also he had to stay home from the Vuelta a españa. “That is the past, I now look especially forward,” says Ewan. “I am happy that I am in a team now where the sprint is important and where all of a sprinttraditie prevails. I feel already well established, the atmosphere is pretty relax and we stay here in a beautiful environment of the season to prepare for.”
“I would have liked to have learned a lot of Greipel”
Ewan won a stage in the Giro and in the Vuelta, is fast and will at Lotto Soudal in the sprint for wins. André Greipel is no longer part of the team, although the German wanted to stay. “I was, of course, like alot of André”, says Ewan, “but you can have the situation now does not change. He will be in 2019 for another team courses. Yes, it will, perhaps, for a little more pressure on me, but on the other hand, I’m also just that I have to win and I put myself also that press. The fact that there is now only one sprinter in the team may be the competition away, who which games can drive. So this situation with advantages and disadvantages. Anyway, I’m keen here for success. I also think in the longer term (his contract runs until the end of 2020, red) and here I would like to stay a long time and a team, sprints to develop over the years, with a group of guys that long to rotate, such as André that in the past has done.”
“Still practicing on leadout”
Ewan brought Roger Kluge of Mitchelton-Scott. Furthermore, there is also Adam Blythe who needs support in the sprint, just like Jasper De Buyst. “We have been here a couple of times sprint training finished,” he says, “it is still a little bit of searching. In the past I was often alone, for if I had only one male, sometimes two in support. Now I will be a real leadout and that you have to practice. That will perhaps one month’s time, but it can take up to a year to complete. I look definitely forward to it and it is also something that races will learn. How my sprints will look like? That will vary, but a number of guys will return to that combination, all of Jasper also his own ambition – and rightly so – in some matches to score.”
Caleb Ewan starts his season with the national championship in Australia, then the Tour Down Under (15-20/01) and then the Cadel Evans Road Race (January 27). Then follows a short rest period, and then again to start in the UAE Tour (25/2-2/3), then are Paris-Nice (10-17 march) and Milan-Sanremo (23 march) on the program. Immediately thereafter follows a second short rest period. His big goal is the Tour de France where he made his debut. “May I ride the Giro, but there is still no certainty about it. Especially the Tour is the goal, we’ll see how the program continues this season.”
Jens Keukeleire will rotjaar quickly behind them
Jens Keukeleire had a difficult debut with his new team Lotto Soudal. The thirty years ‘ rider struggled with illness in the spring and fell out of the Tour in the kasseirit. He hopes that in his second year with the Belgian team again to show what he can offer.
Keukeleire made after years of Australian stay, last season the move to Lotto Soudal. He was next to Tiesj Benoot’s leader in the Flemish spring, but disease to england to his plans, and he missed a lot of matches, so it was Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders to him in the past. He made until his comeback in the Paris-Roubaix. However, won the West-Flanders for the second year in a row, the Baloise Belgium Tour by the end of may and he prepared himself afterwards with a lot of ambition for the Tour de France. He got involved in the crash in the stage to Roubaix, which also Richie Porte, the Tour took, and he had the day after it’s return home with a knee injury.
The winner of a Vueltarit in 2016 started with a lot of enthusiasm to the new season. “Yes, I’m really hungry for 2019,” he admits, “I want this rotjaar as quickly as possible behind me, and in 2019’d like to be spared from bad luck and illness. This spring I want to not have to re-seat experience, but with course, to show that I progression I have made.”
“Tiesj is a stronger rider than I am”
Tiesj Benoot won over the past year, the Strade Bianche. State now higher in the pecking order? “For me, that changes not much,” he says, “I always knew Tiesj big races could win. He is also a stronger rider than I am, but I definitely also my place next to him in the team. You better have multiple strengths and I can certainly play my role in that voorjaarswedstrijden and perhaps also a few times in the train of Caleb Ewan (his former team mate also at Orica, red), although I have no fixed pawn his.”
Just like last season start Keukeleire the new year on South American soil, with the Round of San Juan in Argentina at the end of January. “That was a good experience and I also want to now repeat. Is new is that I then hoogtestage trek to the Sierra Nevada in February, together with Tiesj Benoot (that such a stage also in the past year inlaste after Argentina, red) and Jelle Wallays. In the past I’ve always responded to high altitude training which I finished in may, now we are going to also try it in the winter. Then the opening weekend on the program with the Omloop het Nieuwsblad. Kuurne I cannot ride my bike, the GP Samyn. Then the Strade Bianche and Tirenno-Adriatico. Then we have the program look once more.”
Brent Nut allows for important year of transition
Brent Nut won silver at the latest world CHAMPIONSHIPS time trial for the promises in Innsbruck. The twenty-year-old man from East-flanders competes currently at the promises of Lotto Soudal, and in July 2019 the transition to the pros. Currently he resides with the pros on stage in Mallorca.
Of Nut was tweedejaarsbelofte when he, somewhat surprisingly, a silver medal at the world CHAMPIONSHIPS time trial at the U23 obtained in september of this year. In principle, he may so for another two years with the promises of driving, but all teams pulled on his sleeve, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise and the Waaslander eventually decided in the familiar nest to remain and the transition of the promises to the pros in July 2019 with Lotto Soudal. “This is for me the best solution,” he says, “now I can have a nice spring drive in the promises, and then from the summer a lot to learn with the pros. Hopefully I can then about two years himself a nice campaign, finishing with the pros.”
“Hey, it’s here, more professional.”
Of Nut there is now also a training camp with the pros. “Whoa, this is quite a lot more professional than in the promises,” he told in Mallorca. “We train really heavy, and I amuse me. The atmosphere is good and I find it fun to be here. Together with Gerben (Thijssen, who was also in July the transition, red), I train with the group every day, the least certain and hours of trains. We are still young, we should not be burning. In addition, the season started with the promises to a late, three in march, so we don’t have to train with the guys who all wanted to be good in January for the Tour Down Under.”
Van Moer was the last season sixth in Paris-Roubaix and second in the Circulation. The rider told me after the world cup that he also dreams of the classics, and not only that, time trials. “I especially want to have as many as possible a taste of everything,” he explains. “My silver medal at the world CHAMPIONSHIPS was very nice, but I still don’t know what I am worth on the course as the time trial goes. I’m going to of course continue to hone on that time trial, I would still learn a lot, also of team-mate Victor Campenaerts, Kevin De Weert, of my own trainer. Look at the first half of last season when I had very hard work on that time trial, it was constantly searching for the right position, the right wattage, and I won no races, but I had time to accept places of honor. Only from July all fell pieces of the puzzle slowly falling into each other and the world CHAMPIONSHIPS, I took that silver, but also for me, that was a surprise. It is now too early to make choices. I would like a nice spring drive, in those classics, and then at the world CHAMPIONSHIPS in the promises certainly also aim at the time trial. In a few years we will see or what kind of rider I am.”