After successful Team Camps in January, February marked the beginning of the season for the team with our Men’s program jetting off to Saudi Arabia for the Saudi Tour to kick things off, with racing came thick and fast after that. Getting back into the swing of things, the team aimed to use the opening events of the season to find that racing rhythm once again, race well as a group and leave our mark on proceedings through some attacking racing.
The Saudi Tour saw our sprint group pick up some promising results while rolling the dice on the more challenging terrain that suited the climbers, showing true fighting spirit. Our campaign in the desert continued as we took part in the Tour of Oman where the guys really shone – disrupting the racing each day and throwing the proverbial spanner into the works, with impressive results from Henri Vandenabeele and Kevin Vermaerke, finishing ninth and 11th respectively on GC.
Our attacking outlook continued which saw a very aggressive double block of racing over in France from the guys, with our team’s jersey very much to the fore at Tour de la Provence and Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, where we picked up another handful of top tens.
Meanwhile, our Women’s program kicked off their season in Spain where there was all-out action on each of the four stages, with some committed riding from the team; going on the attack and trying to create opportunities and ending the race with Juliette Labous tenth overall.
Heading into the latter part of the month the first WorldTour event of the season loomed large, the UAE Tour, and the team produced yet more promising riding, particularly on the two mountain top finishes which resulted in Romain Bardet ending the race in ninth on GC, while Thymen Arensman and Andreas Leknessund both finished in the top 20 too.
Rounding out the racing, our Women’s and Men’s programs were in action at Opening Weekend. Our Men’s program showed themselves towards the front in both races, while our Women’s program put on brilliant attacking displays in each race; before ultimately securing third with Lorena Wiebes at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the same result with Floortje Mackaij at Omloop van het Hageland.
It wasn’t just racing for us this month though, as we held final Team Camps for our Development and Women’s programs in Spain, fine-tuning those last preparations before they got, and are set to get, their season underway. Like always, it was great to be together as a group and enjoy some brilliant miles under the sun but don’t get us wrong, the training was tough too!
We also spent some time at altitude on the famous Mount Teide, with John Degenkolb and Nils Eekhoff there from our classics block, alongside Arensman, Bardet and Leknessund who clocked in some hard miles before jetting off to the UAE Tour.
We’re incredibly motivated and are taking a lot of energy from how we are racing – everyone is fully committed and more importantly, we’ve seen a lot of smiles on their faces too, and we’re looking forward to that continuing as we head into March!