Arnaud De Lie’s aims for stage wins on Tour de France debut

Arnaud De Lie is set for his 2024 Tour de France debut, bringing both enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. The 22-year-old recently won the Belgian Championships, which has boosted his confidence ahead of the Grand Tour. Despite his inexperience, De Lie is keen to see if he can secure some results along the way.

On Monday, the Lotto Dstny Tour team was announced, with Sports Manager Kurt Van de Wouwer confirming that De Lie and Maxim Van Gils, the two youngest riders on the squad, have the potential to capture stage victories. Van de Wouwer was quick to highlight that there is no pressure on De Lie, who has never raced in a Grand Tour before.

“It’s good to learn and we’ll see if it’s possible to play for the win,” De Lie said on Wednesday during a virtual media conference from Florence, Italy. “The plan is to participate, but if it gets too crazy, I might brake. I can especially learn a lot here.”

Stage 3 into Turin is expected to be the first true test for sprinters. However, De Lie did not disclose his strategy for this stage’s sprint finish on Monday, which covers a 230.8km route. Instead, he hinted at stage 9 as a potential opportunity for a team win, which features 14 gravel sectors over 199km before reaching a flat finish in Troyes. “The stage in Troyes, it is a good one for me, but it also has rocks, so we’ll see,” he said.

De Lie also mentioned to Het Laatste Nieuws that stage 8 is to his liking, although he noted that a flat sprint favours Jasper Philipsen. De Lie has shown his strength in uphill sprints, winning the punchy Grand Prix de Quebec in 2023 and this year’s hilly Tro-Bro Léon.

Winning the Belgian Championships has given De Lie a significant confidence boost. “There were a lot of emotions on Sunday. That day was impressive, but now I realise that I am Belgian champion,” the 22-year-old said. “I have gained more self-confidence, which is very important for an athlete. It is nice, so close to my first big Tour.”

Maxim Van Gils’ expectations

Teammate Maxim Van Gils, who is 24, is also looking forward to the race. Van Gils had his first Tour experience last year, finishing second in the mountain stage to Grand Colombier. He confirmed that the team’s primary goal is stage wins rather than classification jerseys.

“It would be nice if I could do one spot better,” Van Gils said, referring to his stage 13 podium last year. “I probably like the first two stages of the Tour the best of the entire Tour. They are not too long, steep climbs, those are the courses that suit me. Hopefully, we will go to the finish in a group and then I will also have a fast sprint.”

Van Gils also highlighted stages 17 and 18 as key opportunities. “Stage 18 is nice. It is a good opportunity for me. Stage 17? The legs will decide.” Despite missing the Belgian Championships due to illness, he remains optimistic about his condition and has high expectations for the Tour. “For me and other riders, for sure we’d love to win. The goal for the team is to take a stage home,” he confirmed.

Main photo credit: Getty