Tomorrow the Spanish Basque Country will be the setting for the 34th edition of the Clasica San Sebastian, the first one day WorldTour race after the Tour. The Tour riders who left Paris with a good shape could aim for a good result, on the other hand could the riders of the fall season show themselves for the first time. Tony Gallopin was last year's winner. That time still riding for Radio Shack, he left among others Kreuziger and Valverde behind, where after he could put on the txapela headgear as a winner.
This year Tony Gallopin is again at the starting grid, but of course in the Lotto Belisol selection. It's going to be curious to see how the Frenchman is after the Tour. The big favorites are Valverde, Rodriguez and Sagan. There is nothing changed from the traditional climbs. The Jaizkibel and the Arkale have to be covered both two times. But with the Bordako Tontorra, a 2.5 kilometer climb with an average gradient of 9 % and which the top is about 7 kilometers from the finish line, the final will have even more suspense.
Kurt Van de Wouwer, sports director: "As he's the last year's winner and after his strong performance in the Tour de France he is one of the favourites. Jelle Vanendert will get a free role and will be protected. The race situation will show if he could go for his own chances. Jelle should be good enough for a top ten spot. We will start with a rather young team in San Sebastian. It is most important that the young selection gains some experience and get feeling with the roads. The younger riders can work for the more experienced Vandendert and Gallopin."
"The course also suits the capabilities of Tim Wellens. After his performance in the Tour de Wallonie, I expect him to be good on Saturday too. In the final he should be certainly accompanying Gallopin and Vanendert. The favourites will wait for the second climb of the Jaizkibel, which will be a crucial point. As usual there will be a lot of riders in the front who rode the tour. And of course the Spanish riders are extra motivated for the race in their motherland."
Selection Lotto Belisol: Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Tony Gallopin, Tosh Van der Sande, Dennis Vanendert, Jelle Vanendert, Louis Vervaeke, Tim Wellens.
On the 1st of August three riders will start a traineeship in the pro team of Lotto Belisol. It are Tiesj Benoot and Xandro Meurisse, who are part of the U23 team, and Oliver Naesen from the Cibel team.
For Tiesj Benoot it's the second year in the U23 category and both years he rode for the U23 team of Lotto Belisol. This season he set some nice results. He became third in the U23 version of the Tour of Flanders and fifth in the one of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Also stage races suit the 20-year-old. He got second in the Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux and third in de Tour de l'Isard. This month Benoot got sixth in the European Championship road race.
His teammate Xandro Meurisse was also offered a traineeship. He's part of the U23 category for the fourth year and is also riding his second season in the U23 team of Lotto Belisol. He crashed in the Giro Valle d'Aosta this month and had multiple fractures of his wrist and a rib injury. The 22-year-old won a stage in the Triptyque Ardennais this year and took a third place there as well. In the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for U23 he finished seventh.
Oliver Naesen rides for the Cibel team. He turns 24 in September. This year Oliver could triumph five times and he collected several other nice results. He became fourth in Dwars door de Vlaamse Ardennen and second in the first stage of the Tour de Liège. In the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad U23 Naesen got sixth. In May he was part of the selection for the Belgium Tour.
Sports director Kurt Van de Wouwer explains the choice for these three riders.
Kurt Van de Wouwer: "Tiesj Benoot is an allrounder. He can handle all sorts of terrain. It's a rider who can go smoothly over the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix, just as the hills of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and even in the high mountains he can perform well. And he has fast legs. That's a rare combination. Tiesj has prepared himself for this traineeship with a training camp, I expect he will prove that despite of his young age he's ready to turn professional."
"Just like Tiesj Benoot Xandro Meurisse is part of the Lotto Belisol U23 team for the second consecutive year, it's his last year as U23. Xandro deserves this traineeship because of his regularity. This season he won a stage in the Triptyque Ardennais and often finished high in the rankings. Unfortunately he crashed in the prologue of the Giro Valle d'Aosta and fractured his wrist on five places. He underwent surgery in the hospital of Herentals and normally he should be able to return to competition at the end of August. Xandro is pretty fast at the finish and also hilly courses suit him."
"Then there's Oliver Naesen. He's not part of our U23 team, but we certainly noticed him. Also he is very regular. Almost in every race he participated in, he showed himself. Oliver won some races this year and often got into top five. He's a classic type, a man for the Flemish races."
"Tiesj Benoot and Oliver Naesen will start in the Tour of Denmark. For Xandro that will be determined later, depending on how his injuries heal. They all get the opportunity to prove they are ready to take the step to the pro level. Via this traineeship they get the chance to show themselves. That can be in different ways. By doing their work for the leader, joining a breakaway or taking their own chance when that's possible."
The Tour de Wallonie finished today with a stage from Malmedy to Ans with in the final three hills of Liège-Bastogne-Liège: Côte de la Roche aux Faucons, Côte de Saint-Nicolas and Côte d'Ans. A break of seven was caught with 35 kilometers to go. Lotto Belisol was positioned at the front to start the climb of La Roche aux Faucons. Tim Wellens attacked and got company of among other Zdenek Stybar. The peloton could come back. Wellens tried a second time and he had an advantage up to 28 seconds, but on the Côte d'Ans he was reeled in. Gianni Meersman sprinted to the victory and is the overall winner. Pim Ligthart is the first Lotto Belisol rider in GC, ninth at 41 seconds.
Bart Leysen, sports director: "Today we played all or nothing for GC and if it was possible we would obviously go for the stage win as well. The riders did what was asked of them and started La Roche aux Faucons at the front of the bunch. It was the intention to take off with a small group. That didn't work out. Tim Wellens attacked again, it was a strong effort. On the Côte d'Ans, the last climb of the day, there was headwind. That was too much for him. Because Tim was out alone, the other guys weren't free to move. In the sprint we wanted to go for Tosh Van der Sande, but he got caught in a crash. Apart from abrasions he's fine."
"Tim has proven his condition is more than fine after a period of rest. He made a strong impression uphill. Jelle Vanendert is growing towards his level of the classics. Maxime Monfort, who is back after an injury, got better each day. The whole team performed well, that's positive with what has to come in the next months. We won the opening stage with Jens Debusschere. Unfortunately there was a lack of teams that made the race hard like us."
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Yesterday the Tour caravan stopped in Carcassonne for the second rest day. That doesn't mean there wasn't any activity in the team hotels, on the contrary. Lotto Belisol soigneur Kurt Wouters tells about his schedule.
9:30 - 13:00
In July we provide you with four new wallpapers! From now on you can download the third one.
Go to our multimedia page.