Lotto Soudal Ladies confirm 2018 squad

Kopecky anchors 13-rider Belgian team

The Lotto Soudal Ladies squad confirmed its lineup for the 2018 season, with six new riders joining seven returning women including Madison world champion Lotte Kopecky.

The team adds two Dutch riders: 22-year-old Demi de Jong, sister of former cyclo-cross world champion Thalita de Jong, and elite without contract champion Marjolein van 't Geloof, 21, three Belgian riders – Alana Castrique, 23-year-old Valerie Demey and 22-year-old Kelly Van den Steen – and Frenchwoman Annabelle Dréville.

Dany Schoonbaert, the manager of the Lotto Soudal Ladies team, described the group as a "team full of young, ambitious riders".

"Individually they are all great, but up till now they rode in different teams. When we bring them together, we will have more riders for our team in the finales and that's what it's all about," Schoonbaert said. "Our main goal was to reinforce the team in general, and I think we succeeded in achieving that. As a team, we are looking forward to guiding these riders at the start of their career and to offering them the opportunity to develop themselves.

Kopecky was the most consistent performer of the 2017 season, notching up the U23 Belgian time trial title and a fifth place in the Tour of Flanders. "Of course we are also very pleased that Lotte Kopecky has extended her contract, no doubt we have again beautiful moments ahead of us," Schoonbaert said.

The team will keep its mostly Belgian composition, with seven total thanks to the addition of Demey and Van den Steen from Sport Vlaanderen – Guill D'or. "It may not be the most known Belgian riders, but I'm sure that will change. They already animate finales, but don't always set top results. Together we will work to change that," Schoonbaert said. "Alana Castrique will ride her first year in the U23 category next season. She represented our country as junior at the Worlds in Bergen."

De Jong will bolster the team's Classics squad, as will van 't Geloof who, according to Schoonbaert "loves echelons". Dréville, 22, moves across from FDJ, and will target the Ardennes Classics.

"With Julie Van De Velde, who joined our team half-way this season, we also have a Belgian climber. Julie quit athletics at the end of last year to start cycling. We are looking forward to find out together what's she's capable of."

Lotto Soudal Ladies 2018: Isabelle Beckers, Alana Castrique, Demi de Jong, Valerie Demey, Annelies Dom, Annabelle Dréville, Chantal Hoffmann, Lotte Kopecky, Puck Moonen, Julie Van De Velde, Kelly Van den Steen, Marjolein van 't Geloof, Fenna Vanhoutte

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