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On a recent visit to Belgium for the cobbled classics we were kindly allowed to have a look behind the closed doors of the Lotto Soudal service course, an unassuming building full of kit, cars, trucks and obviously team bikes. A warehouse unit with everything that’s needed to keep a pro team running smoothly throughout the year … but more about that in an upcoming article.
During our guided tour we were lucky enough to have fourth-year professional Dennis Vanendert swing by the building. In casual kit Dennis had popped by to get a few tweaks for his training bike from the team mechanics.
Dennis, though not one of the star names on the team, is a trusted domestique who has supported riders in Grand Tours and major Classics throughout his career with Lotto.
Dennis is the younger brother, by four years, to Jelle Vanendert who has taken second place at the Amstel Gold Race on two occasions (2014 and 2012) and has a Tour de France mountains stage win to his name (stage 14 of the 2011 Tour).
Like his brother Dennis excels when the road tilts upwards. Again for 2015 he’s part of the team’s line up for the Ardennes Classics, supporting his brother in a bid to improve on near-victories in recent races.
You’d think being a pro means not getting your hands dirty when visiting the service course; instead we found Dennis with his sleeves rolled up and getting greasy. Dennis had a file out, smoothing down the top of the steerer tube of his Ridley forks, discussing bike position and looking equally at home within the workshop as on the roads of Europe.
We managed to pull Dennis to one side for a quick word. Once the forks were left on the work bench we spoke about what it’s like to race, train and room with his sibling; the upcoming races that take in his home training grounds; who and why on the team he has labeled with a nickname; and more.
Since we conducted the interview Dennis has already competed in the Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne. Unfortunately both resulted in DNFs. His brother had an equally hard time, crashing out on approach to the Mur de Huy on the penultimate ascent at La Flèche Wallonne.
We wish the brothers better luck in this weekend’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege.