The first half of Spring has come and gone and with it the cobbled Classics. The peloton now turns it attention to the hills of the Ardennes and as Lotto Belisol's cobbled campaign was below its usual high standard, the Belgian team enters De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne with a podium place in mind.
"When will I be satisfied? We have a team that's good uphill. Considering the qualities of our men, we aim for a podium place," sports director Bart Leysen said.
"Some guys have just returned for the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco. The question is if they will have recovered enough. Tony Gallopin is the one who ought to be the most fresh physically. But as I said, we have other strong riders in the team."
Gallopin and Jurgen Van den Broeck will share the leadership role for the 203km race which starts in Leuven and finishes in Overijse. Bart De Clercq and Jelle Vanendert will skip the race with their focus on upcoming races while sickness keeps Tim Wellens out.
There will be no title defence by Peter Sagan (Cannondale) although last year's runner-up Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is down as a starter. The team has identified Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Wout Poels as the top favourites.
"I'm convinced we have to race offensively. Only that way we can strive for a good result. Men like Pim Ligthart or Tosh Van der Sande can early on open up the real race," said Leysen suggesting that ensuring representation in the break will make it easier to achieve the team's goal of a podium.
"When someone is part of the break, Gallopin and Van den Broeck can keep quiet in the peloton and the team then doesn't have any pressure.
"The past has shown the decision usually is made in the local laps. I expect that won't be different this year. It will be an elimination race again in which every climb at the end will hurt. That's why it's important we have a guy in front."
Lotto Belisol for Brabantse Pijl : Sander Armée, Kris Boeckmans, Sean De Bie, Tony Gallopin, Pim Ligthart, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Tosh Van der Sande, Dennis Vanendert.
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