2017 WorldTour teams preview: Lotto-Soudal
Jan 11 2017 03:15 am CET

2017 WorldTour teams preview: Lotto-Soudal

As the opening race of the 2017 UCI WorldTour season continues to edge closer, CyclingPub takes a look at all 18 WorldTour teams. Today's subject is Lotto-Soudal.

The only way has to be up for Belgian formation Lotto-Soudal in 2016. Although the team had victories to celebrate in 2016, the past season was largely overshadowed by the crash of Stig Broeckx in the Belgium Tour. The rider remained in a coma for months but was recently confirmed to have awoken.

The good news of Broeckx' recovery will allow for Lotto-Soudal to set its sights on the future and hopefully have a less dramatic and at least equally successful 2017 season.

Of all UCI WorldTour teams, Lotto-Soudal has been one of the least active on the transfer market. Four riders no longer appear on the roster (Broeckx is one of those four) and five new names are visible. One of the principal newcomers is Moreno Hofland. The former LottoNL-Jumbo rider may help his new team get good results in sprint finales.

The team's top sprinter will of course still be Andre Greipel. The 34-year-old German had an impressive season, winning three stages in the Giro d'Italia, the stage to Paris in the Tour de France and stages in races like the Tour of Britain and the Tour of Turkey.

For the coming season, Greipel is determined to do well in the spring classics. The rider recently stated that he would like to ride at the front in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Once the spring season is over, he is certain to want to get stage wins in Grand Tours as well.

Thomas De Gendt will likely be as vital in 2017 as he was in the previous season. The Belgian won the Tour de France stage to Mont Ventoux and spent an incredible 2,655 kilometers in breakaways, according to his own administration.

De Gendt explained this determination to attack while talking to Het Nieuwsblad in December. "I have to attack if I want to win. I don't have a strong sprint, no explosion in the legs when climbing. So I have to be in the front if I want to win and this won't be any different in 2017," he said at the time.

While little is known about Lotto-Soudal's Grand Tour plans, De Gendt will skip the Giro d'Italia and is likely to ride the Tour de France. The rider aims to avoid one-day-races in the spring, opting instead to take part in stage races such as Paris-Nice and the Tour of Catalonia.

Another major card for Lotto-Soudal to play will be Tony Gallopin. The Frenchman finished second in the Clasica de San Sebastian, fourth in the Tour of Britain and eighth in Paris-Nice, and may well improve from those results in the coming season.

Lotto-Soudal starts its season in the Tour Down Under where it will be fighting for stage wins with De Gendt and the overall classification with Spaniard Rafael Valls, who finished eighth in last year's edition of the Australian Race.

The results in the past year were promising and the Belgian formation will aim to get more positive results this year, in order to improve from its 14th position in the UCI WorldTour Team Rankin 2016. As little has changed at the team, it will likely be a year of consolidation and development and nothing too surprising should probably be expected. But in cycling, surprises are always right around the corner.

The complete roster

Sander Armée
Lars Bak
Tiesj Benoot
Kris Boeckmans
Sean De Bie
Jasper De Buyst
Bart De Clercq
Thomas De Gendt
Jens Debusschere
Frederik Frison
Tony Gallopin
André Greipel
Adam Hansen
Moreno Hofland
Nikolas Maes
Tomasz Marczynski
Rémy Mertz
Maxime Monfort
Jürgen Roelandts
James Callum Shaw
Marcel Sieberg
Rafael Valls
Tosh Van der Sande
Jelle Vanendert
Louis Vervaeke
Jelle Wallays
Tim Wellens
Enzo Wouters
Image: Lotto-Soudal logo