Another strong Classics performance at Dwars door Vlaanderen has propelled Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) onto the list of favourites for the Tour of Flanders on April 1. But being classified as a contender ahead of the event means little to Benoot, who says winning the title is the only thing that matters.
“Being a top favourite doesn’t mean anything. It’s the result on Sunday evening that matters the most. Mentally, I made a step forward since my [career-first] win in Strade Bianche. I’m full of confidence, and that will not be different on Sunday,” Benoot said after finishing seventh in Waregem.
Just like in the Strade Bianche and E3 Harelbeke, Benoot was one of the strongest riders in the race. He wasn’t rewarded with a podium result in E3 Harelbeke or Dwars door Vlaanderen, but a confident Benoot referred to several factors that should help him achieve that goal on Sunday in Oudenaarde.
For now, there’s the consolation of being the strongest man in the race. “That was the feeling I had, yes,” Benoot asserted, seemingly without the desire to sound pretentious.
Benoot knows that he’s enjoying good form and he claims that he’s still improving. “I’m confident that I’ll be able to ride a good finale on Sunday. I started today with a lot of confidence, and I feel like I’m still improving a little bit,” he said.
Without the support of teammates during the finale of the races, Benoot’s chances were limited against a strong force like the Quick-Step Floors team. “There will be other riders, too. Quick-Step won almost everything the last few weeks. [Peter] Sagan will be confident, too. He’s a decisive factor. Van Avermaet was good today. The usual suspects. Valverde? If he’ll race. I think he’ll be fed up with it after today. ‘No puede’, he said during the race,” Benoot laughed.
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