Giving details of some of the riders’ race schedules for 2016, the Lotto Soudal squad have confirmed that André Greipel will adopt a similar approach to next year as he did this season.
The German sprinter had a superb showing in 2015, winning four stages in the Tour de France and also clocking up twelve other wins. Those included a stage in the Giro d’Italia and the overall classification in the Ster ZLM Toer.
His strong Tour showing was attributed in part to delaying his season start, choosing to miss out on the Santos Tour Down Under and also to ride part of the Giro d’Italia.
Unsurprisingly, he’s planning on doing the same again in 2016.
“André Greipel will race the first time on WorldTour level in Paris-Nice,” stated team manager Marc Sergeant, confirming that he won’t compete in the Australian opener. The French race was also his first race at that level in 2015.
“The Tour remains obviously the main goal, but just as in 2015 he will ride the Giro.”
In his place, some of the team’s key riders will compete in Australia.
“In January and February, there aren’t any big changes to our programme. We go to Down Under with Adam Hansen and Greg Henderson, who are both very motivated to perform well on their continent,” he stated. They will also ride the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
“And with Rafael Valls, we have a rider in the team who has top ten ambitions [for the Santos Tour Down Under – ed]. Later in the year, Valls will get his chance in the stage races of one week, like Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Romandie and the Giro.
“Also in Paris-Nice we will start with a very competitive team, with Tony Gallopin who will get his chance on home soil.
“Gallopin will work towards the Ardennes Classics via the Vuelta al País Vasco. In comparison with last year, he will also ride the Flèche Wallonne.”
One of the most exciting young talents in cycling, Tiesj Benoot, is hoping to build on a superb 2015. Although he’s just 21 years of age and combines his pro career with university studies, he was fifth in the Tour of Flanders, finished second overall in the Tour of Belgium and placed fifth in the GP de Montreal and fourth in Paris-Tours.
He will once again target a strong spring.
“For the Flemish Classics we are well armed with Jürgen Roelandts, Tiesj Benoot, Jens Debusschere and Jelle Wallays. They are the core to try to take another step forward after 2015,” he stated.
As for Hansen, Sergeant confirmed plans for the Australian to try to further extend his staggering Grand Tour participation record.
“He will race in May in Italy, in July in France and in September in Spain. At least without any accidents!”