Our roster for the Lotto Belgium Tour will be Alena Amialiusik, Alice Barnes, Neve Bradbury, Ella Harris and Hannah Ludwig. The four-day stage race starts on 22 June in Chimay, Belgium with an afternoon prologue.
It will be Alena’s first race in two months after suffering a knee ligament injury in a crash in Brabantse Pijl.
“My last race was at Liége-Bastogne-Liége in April. At the start I tried to keep racing, but eventually I had to take all of May off the bike and do the rehabilitation for my knee,” says Alena.
“I came to an altitude camp in Livigno, Italy at the start of June. I started with easy and long rides to regain the training volume. It’s been slow but at altitude it’s the ideal place as I can load long climbs and hours of riding into my legs without worrying about intensity. I feel calm, refreshed and happy. I’ve enjoyed every single day and the twenty days at camp just flew.”
Alena said she will use the UCI 2.1 tour in Belgium as preparation towards her next target race, the ten-day Giro Rosa in July.
“This tour will be very important to get into race mode again. I’ll use it to gain some race speed before the Giro Rosa and aim to help my teammates get some nice results,” adds Alena.
While Alena will use the tour primarily as a lead-up to Giro Rosa, teammate Alice Barnes says she will be targeting a stage win. The tour starts with a short prologue, followed by three road stages. Stage two is a pan-flat sprinters delight, while stage three is a five-lap circuit with several short, punchy climbs each lap. The final stage features four ascents of the Muur de Geraardsbergen which will undoubtedly decide the overall general classification.
Alice gives a summary of the stages and predicts that the second stage will be a personal target.
“We start with a four kilometre prologue which is going to be a hard hit out to get the lungs going. I would say stage two could be the stage that suits me best and I would expect to be a sprint finish. Everyone will be fairly fresh coming to the line after a short and flat stage so the finish might be hectic” explains Alice.
“Stage three and four are fairly lumpy with cobblestone sections and cobbled climbs. It’s back to classic Belgium racing. I was happy with how I was climbing in the Spanish block of racing last month, so hopefully I can bring that same form to Belgium next week.”
“I’m excited to be back racing with the team after about a month at home. A lot of my teammates have been at altitude but it isn’t something I am confident to doing during the season. Instead I’m happy with how I’ve been able to prepare from home for this tour,” says Alice.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Racing action from the four-day tour can be followed on Twitter with #LottoBelgiumTour. The stages are broadcast on GCN, Eurosport or on the website livestream.
Prologue | 22 June | Chimay | 4.4km | First rider starts at 14:00CEST | Broadcast from 15:15CEST
Stage 1 | 23 June | Blankenberge – Brugge | 102.2km | Stage start 13:00CEST | Broadcast from 14:30CEST
Stage 2 | 24 June | Galmaarden | 137.5km | Stage start 13:30CEST | Broadcast from 15:30CEST
Stage 3 | 25 June | Geraardsbergen | 101.1km | Stage start 12:30CEST | Broadcast from 13:45CEST