Arnaud De Lie considers himself an outsider for the BK in Middelkerke: “Even if it becomes a tough echelon race, my sprint will remain intact”

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In his first six months as a pro, Arnaud De Lie (20) has already made such an impression that he is already one of the contenders for the Belgian tricolore in Middelkerke on Sunday. The sober Luxembourg farmer’s son sees it slightly differently. “I rather see myself as an outsider. I cannot yet present the nobility letters of Philipsen and Van Aert.”

Stijn Joris

His contract extension is imminent, you can read the ambition in his eyes and despite the six stripes that he already has behind his name, Arnaud De Lie is really not yet satisfied for this season. Everything is going well for him in his first half year with the pros. The BC in Middelkerke is also a competition for which he has the right weapons. On Sunday he could just be on the podium in his very first Belgian championship with the big boys. “I don’t consider myself a favourite,” says De Lie. “Jasper Philipsen has proven in the Baloise Belgium Tour that he is worthy of that role and Wout van Aert has won a bunch sprint almost three times in the Dauphiné. They are the top favourites. I am more of an outsider.”

However, De Lie has the speed with which he can at least come close to Van Aert and Philipsen. However, the Luxembourger still sees a gaping difference in level. “I haven’t won a real bunch sprint yet. I didn’t really get that chance yet. In De Panne Ackermann fell for me and in Bredene I was not well placed due to a lack of experience. Jasper and Wout have been the first to cross the line several times in such an organized bunch sprint, I haven’t yet. That is a step I still have to take.”

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De Lie already has an idea of ​​what to expect from Sunday’s game. He takes into account several scenarios. “Alpecin benefits from a sprint. Not really Quick-Step because they don’t have a sprinter in their ranks. Unless it would play a role that Merlier comes to them next year. We also know from Remco Evenepoel that he will attack. It will certainly not be easy to control the course. A bunch sprint is certainly a possibility, but they predict a little rain and some wind, then it might as well be drawn in echelons.”

Such a match does not have to be detrimental to the chunky De Lie. “If I can be in the first group, that’s even perfect,” De Lie says. “Those are the races I love and often I still have enough left to do my sprint. In a tough race, my speed never really dies out. A BC can sometimes go strange, just think of when De Bondt won in Anzegem, when a big flight checkedmates all the favorites. Within the team we also have some riders who get carte blanche, but if it comes to a sprint, they will draw my card. Then I will not go for second or third place, then I want to win and let the work of the teammates pay off. I know I have a chance and start with confidence. I don’t put a percentage on that, but I know there are some percentages and I believe it could be for me.”

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