Belgian sprinter Arnaud De Lie was one of the breakthrough stars of the 2022 campaign, and his rise has shown no signs of faltering this season, either, returning to Opening Weekend and walking away with second at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and seventh at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
The Lotto-Dstny 20-year-old was tipped before the weekend to be among the top favourites by several fellow pros, and he more than lived up to expectations. At Omloop, he sprinted to the best of the rest spot, notably being the only man to ride the Muur van Geraardsbergen in the big chainring behind Dylan van Baarle.
At Sunday’s Kuurne, he wasn’t quite the best of the rest behind the winning break, but not far off as he missed a place in the sprint behind the dominant Jumbo-Visma‘s Christophe Laporte.
Speaking after the race, Lotto’s lead directeur sportif this weekend, Nikolas Maes, told Cyclingnews that De Lie’s results are something the team certainly would’ve signed up for beforehand.
“I think so if we are honest, I would have signed up for this, especially second place in Omloop,” Maes said. “We are trying now already a few years to reach the podium, and this is a goal that we can now tick off.
“For sure, we are ambitious. We want to win races, but to be honest, against this Jumbo-Visma today, it was quite hard. The only chance that I saw was a combined ‘pool’ after the Kluisberg – then we might close the gap. But once we entered this closing circuit, I could already feel that it was over.”
De Lie, who has already taken three wins this season, including an impressive uphill victory at Etoile de Bessèges, said that he, too, was happy with his weekend’s work.
“Seventh place at Kuurne and second in Omloop, of course, gives me a satisfied feeling after my first full Opening Weekend,” he said. “When the race split in the hilly part, I had some heavy legs at first.
“If I had felt strong enough, I would certainly have tried to join the attackers on Le Bourliquet, but I was limited to following there. Eventually, I came into a good rhythm, and the legs only got better as the race progressed.”
On Saturday, members of Jumbo-Visma – dominant winners of both races this weekend – had criticised Lotto in the Belgian press (opens in new tab) for not helping set the pace behind the early break.
Sunday saw the shoe on the other foot, with the Belgian squad a permanent presence on the front of the chase after Jumbo-Visma had initiated what turned out to be the race-winning move with 84km to go on Le…
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at CyclingNews RSS Feed…