Roelandts and Debusschere give Lotto Soudal options for Gent-Wevelgem

Belgian squad expecting aggressive race Sunday

Lotto Soudal named its starting eight for Gent-Wevelgem on Saturday, unveiling a line-up with cards to play in either an attacker's race or a sprinter's showdown.

Jürgen Roelandts has finished in the top 10 in the last three editions of the event. His 2015 outing was the most memorable of the three, as the Belgian delivered a thrilling – though ultimately unsuccessful – solo attack from nearly 80 kilometres out. Roelandts will take the start Sunday in Ghent as one of the team's featured riders, alongside the fast-finishing Jens Debusschere, fifth in 2015.

Having skipped E3 Harelbeke, Roelandts is feeling fresh for another tilt at Gent-Wevelgem.

"I rode Dwars door Vlaanderen this week, but I was too far behind to join the decisive breakaway," he said. "I didn't feel one hundred per cent that day and then such things happen. I was probably still tired from Milan-Sanremo. The condition is fine. I am ready to kick it tomorrow. I didn't ride E3 Harelbeke. Riding all four races – Milan-Sanremo, Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem – is too much. By choosing Dwars door Vlaandere and skipping E3 Harelbeke, I have three days rest every time. That is the best schedule one week before the Ronde."

Although the team does have a strong lineup in the event of a sprint finale with Debusschere and Moreno Hofland as well, Gent-Wevelgem has defied convention and proven an attacker's race two years running now. Roelandts is expecting more aggressive racing this year.

"No doubt, it will be a tough race tomorrow. Gent-Wevelgem is not a sprint Classic anymore," he said. "Also this edition, the wind will be a determining factor early in the race. We can expect echelons in the Moeren. That is what makes Gent-Wevelgem so attractive. Also the plugstreets could cause some spectacle. If echelons are created on those narrow roads, only a few riders can be in it. Otherwise the plugstreets won't influence the race."

Unsurprisingly, Roelandts – like the rest of the field – will have his eyes on defending champion Peter Sagan on the day's later climbs.

"The second ascent of the Kemmelberg will have a big influence on the result," Roelandts said. "For 99% of the riders it is important to attack before Peter Sagan does. I am not alone and can look for some companions."

Lotto Soudal for Gent-Wevelgem: Lars Bak, Jens Debusschere, Frederik Frison, Moreno Hofland, Nikolas Maes, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg, Jelle Wallays. 

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