Former inline skater and development rider get their chance in the WorldTour
Lotto Belisol and Belkin continue to strengthen their teams for 2014, with the two teams adding local riders to their rosters.
Belgium's Sander Armee will join Lotto Belisol in 2014 and Dutch youngster Nick van der Lijke will join Team Belkin. The dutch squad also confirmed that Laurens ten Dam will stay with Belkin in 2014.
Armee, 27, has been with Topsport Vlaandern the last four years. He finished eighth overall in the Ruta del Sol but last month he suffered a broken cervical vertebra, which is expected to keep him out the rest of the season.
"This transfer is very important to me, because I feel that I'm a rider who can perform better in bigger and tougher races,” he said in the team's press release. “In the spring I'm looking forward to the Flèche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I'd love to get selected for one of the Grand Tours; the Giro or Vuelta. I think I have the capacities for those races."
Armee has an unusual sporting background, coming to cycling from inline skating. He is a 15-time Belgian champion and in 2002 was Junior European champion in marathon.
Van der Lijke joins Belkin from the Rabobank Development Team. The 21-year-old has four victories this season, a race in Roosendaal, the Beverbeek Classic in the USA and the time trial and overall title in the Kreiz Breizh Elite.
"Nick has been at under-23 level for four years and I've seen him getting better during those years. Gradually, he's won time trials and stage races, and is also strong in bunch sprints," Belkin sport director Nico Verhoeven said. "At our team, he will get the chance to develop his true specialty."
"The first year will be about learning. I'm very curious to see what it's like to race at the highest level," Van der Lijke said. "I'm a pretty good climber and quite a strong finisher. So ultimately, I hope to shine in races like Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Amstel Gold Race."
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