After a 2011 season to forget, Leif Hoste is looking forward to returning to the top level of cycling next year with his new Accent Jobs-Verandas Willems team. The Belgian suffered multiple injuries to his head in a crash on the first stage of the Three Days of De Panne this spring and could not come back to normal form during the whole season due to intense headaches throughout the year.
The Katusha Classics leader was then released of his contract and after talking to a number of teams, decided to join the Professional Continental squad directed by Jean-François Bourlard and Lucien Van Impe. "They have a lot of ambition and and excellent programme which suits my personal objectives," Hoste told Velochrono, explaining his choice.
The man who has three second placings at the Tour of Flanders on his palmarès (2004, 2006 and 2007) is confident that his teammates at Accent-Willems will be able to support him to achieve a podium placing in the Belgian Spring Classics once again. "We might not have the strongest team, but we have reason to be ambitious. We'll be able to really be at the front in the finale of races such as Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders, and face up to the big cylinders of the peloton," Hoste insisted.
Indeed, looking at the outfit's 2012 roster, the names of Staf Scherlinckx and Kevyn Ista particularly stand out. Scherlinckx finished this year's Flanders in eighth place, and Ista, winner of the 2006 U23 Ronde, got second in the 2009 Het Nieuwsblad as well as in two editions of the GP Samyn. Moreover, the team also counts many up-and-coming young riders who will clearly benefit from Hoste's experience.
"I know the races and their traps. My experience will be of value to the team and its young riders. I will give them the best possible advice and this will be an advantage for everyone," added Hoste, who also declared that his departure from Katusha had not been forced.
"We decided to separate amicably. After my crash at the Three Days of De Panne, I wasn't on the level they had hoped for. If it hadn't been for that, I'd very probably still be there. I understand them and now I will give my very best for Accent Jobs. I want to be in top shape for the Belgian Classics. I would like to win a race, but more than everything, I would like a podium placing in a Classic," he explained.
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