Tony Gallopin is one of the nine new riders signed by Lotto-Belisol for 2014 and his presence will be a welcome boost for the team's Classics roster. The French rider had attracted the Belgian WorldTour team's attention since the beginning of the season and he eventually signed a two-year contract in August. "In Belgium they live for cycling," Gallopin said. "I wouldn't mind if the Flemish crowds would adopt me as one of their own one day."
The 25-year-old Frenchman had only one victory in 2013, but it was the biggest of his career at the Clasíca San Sebastián. Lotto-Belisol wasn't the only team who hoped to sign Gallopin, but after two seasons with Cofidis and two years with RadioShack, the Frenchman signed with the Belgian team.
"I was sure pretty soon that I wanted to go to Lotto-Belisol," Gallopin told Het Nieuwsblad. "They give me certainty that I can ride all the big Classics with the team. I love the Belgian race culture, the courses and the atmosphere. Even though I might have more talent to win a race like Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Flanders is what I dreamed off since I was a young boy."
Gallopin's love for Flanders started early. "I can't explain it but there just isn't a more beautiful race than the Tour of Flanders. Peter van Petegem [two-times winner] was my idol. When I was 13 I bought Leif Hoste's [three times second in Tour of Flanders] bike and rode with it for two years."
Gallopin has twice started the Tour of Flanders thus far in his career with his best result a 24th place finish in the 2012 edition.
The love for Belgium does not only involve the races or the team. The Frenchman happily swaps a bottle of French wine for a Belgian beer. "My former teammate at Cofidis Nico Sijmens once brought me a crate with every Belgian beer imaginable. Affligem and Grimbergen are my favorites."