The Belgian cyclists association, Royale Ligue Vélocipédique Belge (RLVB), on Friday introduced the 14 athletes who will participate in the four cycling disciplines – Mountain-Bike (MTB), Track, Road and BMX – at the Summer Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro from 5 to 21 August. Speaking at the headquarters of the Olympic Committee, RLVB Director Jos Smets explained the team’s objective. “We are aiming at the top 8 in each discipline!” he said.
The riders – eight men and six women – are: Jolien D’Hoore (track, women), Jasper De Buyst (track, men), Lotte Kopecky, Ann-Sophie Duyck and Anisha Vekemans (road, women), Greg Van Avermaet, Laurens De Plus, Philippe Gilbert, Serge Pauwels and Tim Wellens (road, men), Ruben Scheire and Jens Schuermans (MTB, men), Githa Michiels (MTB, women) and Elke Van Hoof (BMX, women).
While the biggest attraction for Belgium is the male road race, the Belgian delegation is also counting on making its mark in the other disciplines. The Top 8 is the declared general objective, but the hopes of the RLVB’s Smets are focussed particularly on certain riders, such as the two track racers. “The road race is very difficult”, Smets said. “It’s a circuit for climbers, but also for good classic racers. We’ll see how the race goes. Where the other disciplines are concerned, we’re expecting good results especially from our two track racers, Jolien d’Hoore and Jasper De Buyst. If they don’t make the Top 8, that will be a major disappointment.”
Jolien D’Hoore is participating in the Olympics for the second time. The 26-year-old hopes at least to equal the fifth place she achieved at the London games four years ago. “I want to make the Top 5 and with a little luck I can land a medal,” she said. “It wouldn’t really be easy because the level has gone up compared to the London race. I feel very good in competition and at training. I’ve raced a lot recently. I’ll have to rest a bit before leaving.”
Jos Smets also feels it’s worth keeping an eye on the BMX race with Elke Van Hoof, who can « qualify for the Final Eight”. Another good prospect is Ann-Sophie Duyck, “who is riding very well at the moment and could deliver a very good performance” at the road-time trial.
Lars Andersen (Source: Belga)