• Caleb Ewan will be hoping to claim his first career Tour de France stage victory. (Getty)Source: Getty
With no rider available for a high Tour de France classification, Lotto Soudal will head into the 6-29 July Grand Tour with a clear-headed approach.
Cycling Central

Lotto Soudal
26 Jun 2019 - 8:20 AM  UPDATED 26 Jun 2019 - 9:43 AM

Bagging one of the 21 stages on offer is the goal and that's likely to be in a sprint with Australian Caleb Ewan or another featuring Thomas de Gendt, Tiesj Benoot or Tim Wellens.

As the youngest rider in a solid squad consisting of four riders over 30, Ewan will be well supported by Roger Kluge and Jasper De Buyst in the leadout but with added muscle provided by Jens Keukeleire and Maxime Monfort.

“Let us begin to say that it is our ambition to win one stage," team boss Marc Sergeant said. "However, my experience has taught me that once the first stage victory arrives, a second one follows a bit easier.

"So, the faster we could win a first one, the better for us. The opening stage immediately is an opportunity to do so and we will try to use it. And if not, we will shift focus towards the following stages.”

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The word faster is the key for Lotto Soudal and that comes in the form of Ewan who will arrive at the Grand Départ in Brussels for his maiden Tour with finely honed form after a pre-Tour leg burner at the ZLM Tour where he beat Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma), one of his main rivals.

“Caleb Ewan will be at the start of the Tour for the first time in his career, but he will put the necessary pressure on himself," Sergeant said. "With already three stage wins in the Giro and one in the Vuelta, I think the ambition to also win a Tour stage, will come automatically.

"During the sprint preparation, Caleb will be perfectly supported by amongst others Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge but by the other Lotto Soudal riders as well.”

Without a show pony available for a tilt at the general classification, Sergeant said the expectation is that every rider will to contribute to claiming that expected stage win, even Ewan.

“At a certain moment in the race, the sprint teams need to take responsibility and that is why we selected Maxime Monfort," he said. "He will need to lead the peloton during the sprint stages.

"Of course, Maxime is also free to do his own thing in the other stages, but he will have to spend some more energy during the sprint stages, contrary to our other riders with a free role.

“Jens Keukeleire can, just like Benoot and Wellens, contribute to the sprint preparation. It is clear to me that during a sprint stage, the other seven Lotto Soudal riders will support Ewan. But in the other stages, Caleb can also help our attackers like Benoot, De Gendt and Wellens. In that sense, everybody works for everyone during the Tour de France.”

Lotto Soudal for the Tour de France.
Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst, Thomas De Gendt, Caleb Ewan, Jens Keukeleire, Roger Kluge, Maxime Monfort and Tim Wellens.

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