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GP Marcel Kint

Boy van Poppel: “Gerben made a step forward”

Three days after winning the Circuit de Wallonie, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will be at the start of a new Belgian Classic: the GP Marcel Kint (1.1). The World Team managed to add its name on the podium of the two previous editions, which were decided in a sprint.

Last year, the classic received a new skin as the local circuit around Kortrijk was replaced by a double passage of the Beerbosstraat, the Kluisberg, the Tiegemberg and the cobbles of the Varentstraat.

This Sunday, the loop through the Flemish Ardennes is extended with the Paterberg and the Old Kwaremont. After the start in Kortrijk, the riders will cover this lap twice before a local lap of 23 kilometer at the end of the 199 kilometer race in Zwevegem.

Five riders from Circuit de Wallonie, Baptiste Planckaert, Gerben Thijssen, Corné van Kessel, Kévin Van Melsen et Boy van Poppel are joined by Dimitri Claeys. The selection is directed by Pieter Vanspeybrouck.

« The addition of the Paterberg and the Kwaremont to the parcours will probably have an effect on the race scenario, although there is still a possibility that several teams race passively in order to organize a bunch sprint. The most probable scenario is maybe an elimination race such as last Thursday in the Circuit de Wallonie, when we managed to survive with six riders in a peloton of 30 riders thanks to the strong pulls of Kévin Van Melsen. In any case my role stays the same, I need to reach the final with Gerben and do my thing there. » « Gerben and I became an inseparable duo. He made a big step forward in difficult classics and pushes high watts in the sprint. The last couple of months he gained confidence and especially also confidence. As a young sprint it’s not always easy to compete with riders who already ride finals for years and know all scenarios. As his pilot, I try to pass on this valuable experience. Gerben is very eager to learn, that’s why we progress fast. For example, we learned that we can drop him off in the lead of the bunch to launch the sprint. He has the power to finish it off starting from this position. It’s nice to see him reaching a high level and personally, I take a lot of satisfaction from the appreciation he’s showing after each race. » « I’m also satisfied with the race schedule that was established for us by the sports direction. This period of the year we have a lot of opportunities to sprint for the victory and that is very important for Gerben's learning process. As a team we learn to take control of the race and in addition, Gerben learns how to deal with the pressure of a race favorite. I'm dreaming of winning more races together, before pursuing our development on the most prestigious races. »


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