Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Dstny) is setting no limits on his third season in the professional ranks, with dreams of a win in the Flemish Classics, a successful Grand Tour debut and a possible Olympic berth for Paris 2024.
The Belgian committed his long-term future to Lotto-Dstny until 2026 in August as their headline rider and huge hope for the coming seasons at just 21 years old.
“My main goal will be to have a nice Flemish spring. I'm thinking of top-10, top-5 in the big races. And why not win in Dwars door Vlaanderen, Gent-Wevelgem or Omloop Het Nieuwsblad,” said De Lie to Sporza.
"The Olympic Games also interest me. It is a course that should suit me: a long race with short climbs.
“I'm really looking forward to the Games. It is a very special and prestigious event that only takes place every four years. I would like to participate, but I know that there are only four places and the tickets are therefore expensive. But I have already shown that I can also be a team player. I have already laid several cards on the table, maybe I can be a wild card later?”
At the European Championships, De Lie played a selfless role for Belgium in support of eventual runner-up Wout van Aert, giving everything to try and catch Christophe Laporte (France) and finishing fourth himself up the Col du VAM.
De Lie has been nothing short of a revelation in his first two professional seasons, adding another 10 wins in 2023 to the 9 from the year prior. This included a miraculous sprint on one leg at the Famenne Ardenne Classic and his first at WorldTour level by way of a powerful sprint from the back of the bunch at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec.
“My first World Tour victory in Québec may have more sporting value, but my victory in the Famenne Ardenne Classic is personally my best moment of this season,” said De Lie.
“There was an emotional charge to it because my old club organized that race, and many of my supporters showed up. That I also broke my pedal and crossed the line on one leg …”
He also excelled in the Sprint Classics without notching a big win, highlighting his incredible potential at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad after crashing, chasing back on and outsprinting the rest of the field for second place with Dylan van Baarle (Jumbo-Visma), taking the solo win up the road.
"In 2023, I learned how to live as a professional," said De Lie. "In my first year, I gave everything at all times. Now I can pace myself better and waste less energy."
De Lie’s season was not without incident as a fractured sternum, rib, and collarbone took him out of racing for over a month after crashing heavily at the 4 Jours de Dunkerque in May. His bounce-back was quick, however, as it only took him three days of racing to get back amongst the wins at the Tour de Wallonie.
The Walloon’s Grand Tour debut has been long awaited as one of the sport’s top prospects. Much of the recently revealed Giro d’Italia route seems to suit De Lie’s qualities as a punchier sprinter capable of getting over hills, but its proximity to the Classics may push him for a run at the Tour de France or the Vuelta a España.
“I should like the finishes in the Giro, but it comes too soon after the Classics, and I'm only 21,” said De Lie. “I want to go to a Grand Tour so I can immediately take a shot at a stage victory.
“If there are only flat sprints in the Tour [de France], all the stars must be favourable for me to have a chance. So I will make my choice depending on the Grand Tour course which seems most suitable for me.”
De Lie is Lotto-Dstny’s best and only sprint option for the 2024 season, with Caleb Ewan returning to Australian home team Jayco AlUla and should have the full support of the best squad available to him whichever Grand Tour he lands on.
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