Team Jumbo-Visma Women ready to take the next step
Over the past three years, Team Jumbo-Visma Women has become a force to be recko...
In the coming days, Tiesj Benoot will be at the start of Tirreno-Adriatico and Strade Bianche. Following his victory in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the 28-year-old Belgian of Team Jumbo-Visma is full of ambition and confidence before the start of the two Italian races. "I have an excellent feeling. You can race a little more freely if you can get a victory early in the spring. If there had been any doubts, they have been dispelled now."
Benoot enjoyed the past few days. He won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne last Sunday with a late attack, leaving his fellow breakaway riders behind. He finally achieved his long-awaited success in a Flemish spring classic. "I try to enjoy it as much as possible. For me, that win is special. I can imagine it is a different feeling for riders who win a lot, like Wout, to win Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne than for Benoot", the Belgian winked. "The days following a victory require you to focus on the goals for the upcoming weekend. Therefore there must be a balance between fun and focus, but I do my best to let it sink in well."
"I also received numerous congratulations through text messages. There were so many that my girlfriend occasionally asked me to put the phone aside for a moment", Benoot says with a smile. "But I prefer to receive congratulations after a victory over messages of support because you are in hospital", said Benoot, who broke a cervical vertebra in a collision during training in Italy at the end of August.
Following a fantastic debut weekend, Benoot hopes to maintain the same momentum. "We had certainly anticipated that the team would perform well in Omloop Het Nieuwblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. But after our preparation at altitude, it was hard to predict whether we would succeed. It was fantastic to dominate the way we did in those races. So I hope we can continue in the same vein for the upcoming races."
"As a former winner, I must aspire to win again"
The gravel roads of Strade Bianche are familiar territory for Benoot. In 2018, the Belgian won the race in difficult conditions. Additionally, he had previously placed in the top ten four times. "Strade Bianche is more of an individual race. Working as a team is difficult here. The best cyclists always compete in the final since the race is challenging. With Attila Valter, though, we have someone on the team who can also go a long way. He came out of the O Gran Camino strong and finished fourth here last year. The other guys are also in good shape, so we definitely have possibilities", Benoot says.
"My ambition is to win the race again, but a podium place would also be nice. As a former winner, it would be odd to claim that I only aim for a top-ten finish. I am at the start to give the best possible performance and shine in the final. It's a fair race. You always end up where you belong", Benoot says.
"Riding a good classification is definitely possible"
Two days after Strade Bianche, Benoot will be at the start of Tirreno-Adriatico. The Belgian aspires to play a significant role in the seven-day stage race. "While there isn't much time to recover between Strade Bianche and the Tirreno, it should be possible. Riding a good classification in Tirreno-Adriatico is definitely a goal if I come out of Strade Bianche unscathed", Benoot says.
"The opening time trial is the day I want to be over with the fastest", Benoot says with a smile. "That time trial is not on my mind. There are barely any corners, and it always runs straight along Lido di Camaiore's coastline. During the training camp in Tenerife, I worked on my time trial. Due to my neck injury, I couldn't sit in the time trial position for an extended period until January. I will try to limit the damage on day one. The next stages will be enjoyable, such as stage five's arrival at the top of the Sassotetto. I came in sixth place on that climb in 2018. I enjoy that three stages are longer than 200 kilometres. I'm looking forward to it."
Benoot will be joined by teammates Attila Valter, Michel Hessmann, Lennard Hofstede, Gijs Leemreize, Milan Vader and Tosh Van der Sande.