Lotto Soudal came up with the short end of the stick on the Belgian team for the World Championships later this month in Richmond. Only one of its riders has been selected for the road race, while national rival Etixx-QuickStep has four riders on the team.
Coach Carlo Bomans is sending a nine-man team with three captains, two of whom are former World Champions – Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert – indicating he is looking to a sprint finish.
Tiesj Benoot, probably the least known of the nine selected riders, is the only Lotto Soudal rider selected. The 21-year-old first-year pro will be one of the domestiques, regardless of whether the race ends in a sprint or not. "In any situation I could play a role. Of course we have some strong leaders, but in a selection you also need riders who can start up the battle. I’m made for that I think," he sad on the team’s website.
"The fact that I'm the only Lotto Soudal rider in the selection? That surprised me as well."
Jürgen Roelandts said that "Of course I'm disappointed that I'm not selected. When I look at the team, I think it's mainly built around Tom Boonen, with three riders of his team in support.
"The coach seems to gamble on a sprint, but also then I could have been a very good lead-out. But he sees it differently and I have to live with that."
"Jürgen has had stomach problems and currently his condition is still improving. I do not want to take him in a role as a helper, he is too good to let him work from the first kilometer,” Bomans told nieuwsblad.be. Roelandts will be along as a reserve rider.
"When I look at the selection, I think that is constructed mainly around Tom Boonen, with three riders of his team in support," Roelandts said.
Bomans admitted that this was the case. "We basically set Boonen. I do not know why I should doubt Tom. This season he has shown enough good form. He has three teammates in our selection, but that's not the point."
The difficult Richmond course would seem to suit Gilbert, but Bomans expressed his doubt on the BMC rider. "As far as Philippe Gilbert is concerned, I expect him to do his best. We will soon see in Canada how it is with his form. For now I must go on what he has said."