The spring races of the Lotto Soudal Ladies are over and so are the first months of Annelies Dom in her new role as a sports director. Together with Annelies, we look back on the first part of the season.
Annelies Dom: “In terms of results, we can’t speak of a successful spring campaign and unfortunately, bad luck played a part in that. Danique Braam crashed while on training camp in Spain and could only start the season halfway through March, at Nokere Koerse. Moreover, she was also held back during the races due to her elbow injury as she couldn’t race comfortably. Silke Smulders had to undergo knee surgery, which meant she was out for the entire spring season before she could do one race. And Christina Siggaard is still struggling with the consequences of a concussion from a year and a half ago and could not yet resume competition so far this year. As a result, we had to finish the first part of the season with quite a small pool of riders.”
“Besides, we’re in an Olympic year, which means the pace in the peloton is higher and this causes bigger differences between the riders. But in races below WorldTour level, we should certainly be able to perform. At the Ronde de Mouscron on April the 5th – the first race of the Lotto Cycling Cup – Alana Castrique really wanted to win the intermediate sprints competition. As a team, we went for it and we also succeeded in our goal. The team performed really well there, but at the end they lacked the power they had spent earlier in the race to also get a good result at the finish. At the Omloop van de Westhoek, at the end of March, Jesse Vandenbulcke did a strong race and rode attentively. Christine Majerus and Amy Pieters of SD Worx were too strong, but Jesse fought bravely for a podium spot as she tried to jump away on the final cobbled section. However, that didn’t work out and at the end, two riders were faster in the sprint, so she finished fifth. Jesse should have been able to continue like that, but a week later, she got ill on the day of Gent-Wevelgem and it took some time to fully recover. But we can definitely expect some nice things from Jesse in the second part of the season.”
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Normally, the Lotto Soudal Ladies would have raced the GP Eco-Struct this Saturday, but in the end the team will not be competing there. Three races of the Lotto Cycling Cup were scheduled this month, but unfortunately they have all been cancelled. In the second half of this month, from May 17th to May 29th, the team will organise an altitude training camp in Livigno.
Annelies Dom: “The month of May has indeed become one without races. However, we can turn this into a positive thing. At the altitude training camp, the riders can physically prepare themselves for the second half of the season. The fact that there is no competition for a month will also make them hungry to race and will bring out a kind of fighter’s mentality to be fully ready to race in June. I think this period can really provide a boost for the riders. And the training camp will undoubtedly also strengthen the team spirit.”
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“I believe that we will certainly show ourselves in the second part of the season. Silke is making great progress in her rehabilitation and she might be able to resume competition earlier than initially expected. She will join us for the altitude training camp in Livigno, which is great news. Danique will be able to race at full strength from June onwards. And Hanna Nilsson will definitely be up there at the Giro d’Italia Donne, which is planned for July. She is more of a climber than a Classics’ rider, although she finished on a nice 12th spot at Dwars door Vlaanderen.”
Images: Photo News.