Roelandts: I'm more than just a replacement for Oss

Belgian ends decade at Lotto to join Van Avermaet at BMC Racing

Jurgen Roelandts believes that he can become a key part of the BMC Racing offensive in the Spring Classics and provide another outlet for the team in certain bunch sprints.

The 32-year-old was signed from Lotto Soudal in the summer having spent his entire professional career at the Belgian squad. Many deemed his move as a like-for-like replacement for Daniel Oss, who has left BMC Racing for Bora and the chance to link up with Peter Sagan, but Roelandts sees it another way entirely.

"I'm not really a replacement. I can do a finale in every race from Milan-San Remo to Paris-Roubaix. I'm not replacing him and also in stage races I think some of the sprints might also be good for me."

   

Roelandts was often given a free role at Lotto Soudal in the Classics, and although he never made the top step on the rostrum he has odium places in Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders to his name.

His role next season will centrally focus on helping Greg Van Avermaet, the winner of Paris-Roubaix and several other spring races in 2017. However, Roelandts thinks that he will still be afforded chances in certain races.

"I'm still able to ride all the finals in the Classics. Greg has shown that he can win those races so he's the leader but in one or two races I can still have a chance. For sure if there's a chance for me I can try and grab it. Also in the Classics the situations can change so fast that you need a strong team but everyone starts with the intention that Greg is the leader."

The move from Lotto brought to a close a decade of riding for the same squad. Marc Sergeant helped nurture Roelandts' talent and the separation between rider and team boss was a hard relationship to break.

"We had a good bond. He lives near my parents and I have nothing bad to say about him. Whenever we talked about new contracts I asked if I could do my own thing in the Classics and he always gave me my chance. He kept his word, so it was hard to leave. Someone asked if it was harder to leave or harder to come here but it was harder to leave, for sure."

"I stayed with Lotto for so long because in the Cobbled Classics I always had my own chances and that was really important for me. I had carte blanche but now was the right time to change. If I wanted to change it had to be now. This move also gives me the chance to focus a bit more on time trialling, which I wanted to do. I think there's also going to be some chances for me in some of the sprints."

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