The Belgian Champion talked about his expectations as he returns to competition after two months.

“It will be my first time doing the Critérium du Dauphiné, but I honestly don’t have any targets for the upcoming week. It’s almost two months since my last race, so the most important thing will be to get back into the race rhythm again and see where my shape is at the moment. The plan is to just take it day by day and finish the race in a better form than the one I had at the start.

On the other hand, we have two guys on the team who are in good shape, and I’m talking here about Ilan and Mikel, so if it is possible, I will try to support them. The course is very hard, there are a lot of uphill finishes and tough climbs, everything culminating with that demanding weekend, but we have a strong Soudal Quick-Step squad and are confident in our chances of getting a good result.

Before coming here, I was in Sierra Nevada together with some of the guys for an altitude training camp, which helped me get back to a good shape, although I won’t lie, the injuries are still a bit uncomfortable, especially on the TT bike. For that reason, the stage four individual time trial will be a good test to see how the shoulder reacts after the Itzulia injury.

That stage, and the whole Dauphiné for that matter, will be an important step as I gear up for the Tour de France. It’s important for me to have a race in my legs before July, even though I’m not going for a good personal result. It will be a different story than the one at Paris-Nice, where I wanted a stage victory and a good general classification. The main goal here is to keep progressing and find my best shape ahead of my Tour de France debut.”

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