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Published on 06-18-2024

A look back at the Baloise Belgium Tour and the Tour of Slovenia

Last week, the Team was engaged on two fronts with the Tours of Belgium and Slovenia. Two stage races with very different profiles, which served as general rehearsals before the Tour de France.

Most of the riders at the Tour of Belgium were classics riders and sprinters, with the exception of Pierre Latour. Unfortunately, a mechanical problem prevented him from playing his full role in the opening time trial, in which Thomas Gachignard was the team’s best performer. The following day, it was a bunch sprint that decided the outcome of the stage in Knokke-Heist, with Jason Tesson finishing just outside the top 10 with an 11th position. Bis repetita the following day with another bunch sprint involving our riders. After a great effort from Dries Van Gestel for much of the race, Emilien Jeannière and Jason Tesson came close to breaking into the top 10 and had to settle with 12th and 14th positions respectively.

The following day, the riders faced the main stage, with a course that was similar to a true Belgian classic, with its steep climbs and cobbled sections. Anthony Turgis was active at the front and tried his luck in the breakaway on several occasions. In a particularly demanding final, Dries Van Gestel, Emilien Jeannière and Thomas Gachignard finished less than 20 seconds behind the day’s winner, and all three made it into the top 25 in the overall classification. The next day saw another bunch sprint in Brussels after a stage that was mostly contested in rainy conditions. Emilien Jeannière was well supported by his team-mates and took 7th position. There was no change in the overall classification, with our three riders finishing the week in the top 25.

Credits: Blaise Chauviere

In Slovenia, it’s a very different race, with a lot of elevation changes on the schedule except on stage 1. Naturally, most of the Team’s climbers are involved, with Steff Cras making his return to competitive racing, more than two months after his crash in the Basque Country. Unsurprisingly, the first stage came down to a sprint, with Sandy Dujardin putting in a fine effort to take 7th position. During the second stage, the Team went on the offensive on several occasions, led by Mathieu Brugaudeau, but the outcome of the race was once again decided by a bunch sprint, with all our riders finishing in the same time.

Stage 3 was the first stage in which the peloton exploded, and our riders managed to come out on top. Jordan Jegat and Steff Cras were in good form on the final climb and were part of an 11-man group chasing Giovanni Aleotti (BOH), the future overall winner. Jordan Jegat finished second in the sprint in this group, taking 3rd position and recording his 3rd podium finish of the season. Steff Cras finished in the same time and our two riders did very well in the overall classification (Jordan was 3rd and Steff 11th). The next day saw the start of the main stage, with almost 3,000 metres of elevation gain. Mattéo Vercher and Mathieu Burgaudeau were on the attack at the front on several occasions, but it was once again Jordan and Steff who were among the favourites on the final climb. Our Belgian rider put in another solid performance, taking 8th position and moving up to 5th overall.

On the final stage, it was Fabien Grellier’s turn to try his luck in the breakaway before being caught with 10km to go. In the end, Steff Cras and Jordan Jegat conceded almost a minute on the finish line. In the overall classification, our Belgian climber remains in the top 10 (9th) and Jordan finishes 14th. It was a frustrating final stage for the team, but that doesn’t detract from the fine performances put in during the Slovenian week, particularly by Steff Cras, who had just returned from injury.

Credits: Sportida Agency

In Belgium as in Slovenia, our riders had the opportunity to build up their confidence with a view to the rest of the season. Now it’s on to the French and Belgian Championships this week, before rapidly turning our attention to the biggest event of the season: the Tour de France.