It has been a big few weeks for Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol). After finishing his first Grand Tour, the Belgian has secured a year's extension to his contract, which was due to run out at the end of this season.
This year’s Giro d'Italia was the biggest test for the young Belgian to date, and he came through with flying colours. Wellens was one of the few riders to make it through the Montecassino crash unscathed and finished second to Michael Matthews. However, he was most active in the final week and made it into the break no less than four times. He went on to take another second place, behind Stefano Pirazzi on stage 17.
Wellens' wasn't able to convert those attacks into his first Grand Tour victory, but his aggressive performance impressed his Lotto-Belisol team. "His offensive style of racing, which everybody loves, offers him opportunities," said team manager Marc Sergeant.
"The two second places are nice rewards. The next years we'll have to see together with him where his possibilities lie, in one-day races and stage races. As a team I think the development of Tim is a prototype example of how we can form Belgian riders."
Wellens has been part of the Lotto-Belisol set-up since 2012, where he rode for the U23 squad. Six months into his contract, the Belgian was snapped up by the senior squad and he turned professional. He hasn't yet taken his first professional victory, with his previous best result coming at the Tour of Beijing in 2012, where he finished 10th in the general classification.
While the team was keen to keep him for another year, for Wellens, there was no other choice. "As a young Belgian you can't be part of a better team," said Wellens. "I get a very nice race programme and they offer me a lot of opportunities. The team makes sure I don't go in overdrive and limits the amount of race days. Lotto Belisol gives me time to grow. Those were the main reasons to extend my contract."