For now, at least, Arnaud De Lie can just enjoy the novelty rather than feel overwhelmed by the ever-growing attention. Last Autumn, a week or so before his indelible, one-legged victory at the Famenne Ardenne Classic, he discovered he had even been immortalised in song by Leuven punk band the Ramones van het Groenewoud.
Borrowing rather heavily from Blondie’s ‘Denis’, the three-piece declared their undying admiration for the Lotto-Dstny rider in an enthusiastic combination of English, French and Dutch (sample lyric: “You are a bull, you sprint just like a cat/You’re super cool, you ain’t no chasse patate.”) De Lie was alerted to the homage by his mother as he made his way home after his fourth-place finish at the European Championships.
“It was a surprise for me,” De Lie laughed during Lotto-Dstny’s media day in Mechelen on Friday. “It was just after the European Championships, where we had finished second and fourth, which was good, but it wasn’t the big goal. But then I had my mother calling me on the phone to tell me there was a new song about me. I was very surprised, but they’re good guys and it was all a bit of fun.”
The song will inevitably boom from bars throughout the Flemish Ardennes this Spring, when De Lie makes his first Tour of Flanders appearance, and it may find an even wider audience in the summer, when the Belgian lines up for his Grand Tour debut at the Tour de France. He has already shown his quality by clocking up 19 wins across his first two professional seasons, but his 2024 racing schedule, heavy on WorldTour events, marks a clear step up in ambition.
De Lie will start his season a little later than normal, at the Vuelta a Murcia and the Clasica de Almeria, before lining out at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where he was so impressive in placing second a year ago. He is also set to ride Le Samyn and Paris-Nice before lining out at Milan-San Remo on March 16, his 22nd birthday.
His Spring’s biggest objectives, however, will come on the weekends that follow, starting with E3 Harelbeke and, perhaps, Gent-Wevelgem. De Lie will also tackle Dwars door Vlaanderen before riding his maiden Ronde and then returning to Paris-Roubaix, while participation in the Amstel Gold Race has also been pencilled in for now, albeit tentatively.
“The objective this year will be to win a Flemish Classic. I think I’m getting better and better every year, so why not this year?” De Lie said. “The goal is to be on form for the…