Our spy in the peloton is ready for the Belgian Championship and also carefully followed the preparation races for the Tour de France. He has also seen the first selections and has some reservations.

In the meantime, the first selections for the Tour de France have been released. Jumbo-Visma kicked off and I think it’s a strange selection among the Dutch.

If you compare their Tour team with those of previous years, there is an essential difference. I see fewer climbers. Is that a sign that they bet more on Wout van Aert than on the overall victory?

I would have expected more types like Robert Gesink or Rohan Dennis than Nathan Van Hooydonck. He is doing really well this year though.

Jumbo-Visma will not control things like they did in the past 2 editions, with Tadej Pogacar then taking the overall victory.

Someone like Tiesj Benoot is of course versatile and can also last a long time in the mountains when he is at his best. He already proved that in Paris-Nice.

Nathan Van Hooydonck is the foreman of the Jumbo leaders.

“Does Lotto-Soudal bet more on breakaways?”

I also find the Lotto-Soudal eight an atypical selection. The team is brimming with freebooters. Do they bet more on breakaways than on sprints with Caleb Ewan?

It is also striking that the Australian does not receive a typical lead-out. Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge are 2 very important pawns who are missing in Ewan’s sprint train in this Tour.

Apparently De Buyst is not completely fit after a fall in Turkey, I do not know a reason for Kluge’s absence.

But trust me: Ewan will miss the German greatly. Not only in the sprints, but also in the mountains.

Roger Kluge is the textbook example of a rider who is the first to stop uphill and then knows what wattages he can and must pedal to arrive just within the time limit with his sprinter.

I try to explain. Kluge is the textbook example of a rider who is the first to stop uphill and then knows what wattages he can and must pedal to arrive just within the time limit with his sprinter.

Kluge then overtakes rider for rider and then settles into the gruppetto without too many problems. Yes, I admit it: Kluge has already overtaken me many times.

Of course, Ewan can also win sprints without a lead-out. Florian Vermeersch is a strong bear, he can drop Ewan off in another train.

But I stick with it: without a sprint train it will be less easy for Ewan to win a stage anyway.

Roger Kluge is not in the Tour.

“Transfer might get inside Merlier’s head”

Before the Tour starts, we will receive the Belgian Championship on Sunday. The wind will be a deciding factor, because in De Moeren you really don’t need much to tear the peloton.

Although the latest forecasts are based on headwinds and that is not favorable. Without wind it will be a controlled BC with Lotto-Soudal and Alpecin-Fenix ​​who will do everything they can to make it a sprint.

In the absence of Wout van Aert, Jasper Philipsen is my top favourite. He made an impression in the Ardennes stage in the Baloise Belgium Tour.

Alpecin-Fenix ​​has another top sprinter in Tim Merlier, but he might get a little less support from his squad because he would move to Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl.

That may all creep into Merlier’s head and that is not the optimal preparation for a championship.

But even without that transfer rumor, I think Alpecin-Fenix ​​would have drawn the card-Philipsen anyway. Tim has struggled with his elbow and is a few percent less. Although he has not been driving badly in recent weeks.

Alpecin-Fenix ​​has another top sprinter in Tim Merlier, but he might get a little less support from his squad because he would move to Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl.

Tim Merlier has been a bit of a loser since his fall in Paris-Roubaix.

“De Bondt could just win the Belgian Championship for the second time”

Of course I will also take Arnaud De Lie into account on Sunday, although it may well be that he is gradually over his top.

He has been performing at a very high level for weeks now. Then the barrel is gradually finished. But if you drop De Lie off in his dream position, he’ll be close.

But if 1 race can produce a surprising winner, then it is the Belgian Championship. Just think of Dries De Bondt 2 years ago.

And let De Bondt be in great shape again. It could just be that he becomes Belgian champion one more time by driving away from a group of outsiders.

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Peggy McColl

Mentor l NY Times Bestselling Author. Hi, I'm Peggy McColl, and I'm here to deliver a positive message to you!