Lidl-Trek motivated ahead of first taste of the cobbles

Former winner Stuyven and young talent Milan are the key riders in a strong rider-roster that will take on Opening Weekend for the Lidl-Trek men.

Jasper: “We’re really looking to measure ourselves in the Classics and continue the positive trend of the Team so far”

The tension is rising just a couple of days out from the two races that will open the Belgian racing season and Lidl-Trek is ready for the big challenge ahead. The excitement level ahead of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Saturday 24 February) and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne (Sunday 25 February) is already high and after tomorrow’s recon, team’s preparations will be over.

Lidl-Trek, directed this weekend by Gregory Rast and Maxime Monfort, has decided the exact composition of the team for both races. For both OHN and KBK, Jasper Stuyven, former winner of both races (2020 and 2016), will be the team’s point of reference, flanked by rising star Jonathan Milan, in only his second appearance in the Opening Weekend races.

For OHN, Lidl-Trek will then count on a solid Belgian contingent consisting of Tim Declercq, Edward Theuns and Otto Vergaerde, who will be joined by Alex Kirsch and Toms Skujins. For KBK, Declercq and Vergaerde will be replaced by Daan Hoole and Mathias Vacek.

The Team’s leaders were give the task to introduce Lidl-Trek’s expectations and aims for the first test on the Flemish cobbles. Here’s what they had to say…

A good approach and high motivation for Stuyven: Opening Weekend in his words

Opening Weekend is an eagerly awaited moment for many people inside and outside of Belgium, and this brings the right tension in the peloton. We all breathe the atmosphere of the event, being the first big date for many classics riders. For this edition, we have already seen some contenders showing a good form, others perhaps they hid a bit. Then, there’s the approach to the races to consider, a factor that can be very important. The choices have been different.  Some, like me, have prepared by racing with warm weathers, others focused on blocks of intense training. On Saturday and Sunday, however, we will all be on the same starting line. The presence of more factors will only make the challenge more compelling and exciting.

Two top ten placements for Jasper in Portugal (©GettyImages)

Personally, I am satisfied with the path I have taken in recent weeks. I worked hard, first in the team camp and then at altitude on Teide. This year, I chose to approach Opening Weekend with more racing days in the legs, as I used to do some years ago, debuting at Algarve. Everything went well, I was happy with my performance and also, that I finished without any crash.

I’m happy with my winter so far and the feedback I’ve had. I felt good on the bike and this allows me to face OHN and KBK with enough confidence. Of course, this is no guarantee of a good result, but having an extra boost of good feeling helps for such important events. I think the super positive trend of the Team since the start of the season team is also something that will help our approach. There is a good spirit in the Team, we can feel confident, and that gives a healthy boost of extra motivation to do well in every race. I’m looking forward to racing.

A good debut for Milan with Lidl-Trek at Valeciana, where he took a stage win (©GettyImages)

Johnny Milan: “I love these races, I’m here to learn and test myself”

I have a soft spot for the races in Belgium, for the cobbles, for the atmosphere of these events. In my first years as a professional, I learned to understand their importance and beauty, this year I hope to take the first step to measure myself a bit more. These races are unique, complicated, ones in which experience plays a fundamental role. I only raced OHN and KBK for the first time last year but I feel that these races, and the cobbled classics in general, can become my races in the future. I feel they suit me, and my passion is strong. However, to be competitive here at my full potential, patience is needed. Now, I have in my mind that I need to learn, to steal with my eyes the experience of the strongest riders and, above all, to enjoy them.

Milan and Theuns, a key rider for his sprint and for sure on the cobbles (©GettyImages)

I feel I’m in a special team for these races. We are strong and ambitious. I am surrounded by experienced riders who will be able to teach me and help me grow. There is a Belgian group from which I want to learn every tip. It’s a bit like going to the university of cobbles! I will do my best on Saturday and Sunday and play my part for the team.

I’m ready for it. My debut at Valenciana was good. Results aside, the performance confirmed that I did a good job over the winter, especially on the climbing stages. That’s the detail that, more than anything else, has comforted me. Over the past two weeks, I have worked to make further improvements. I just need to embrace the challenge of the cobbles.