Telenet-Baloise Lions cyclo-cross team will officially become Baloise Trek Lions as of January 1 with Lucinda Brand revealing the new jersey on New Years Eve. The Baloise Trek Lions rolled out the new jersey that features all black background with red and blue accents and showcases the team’s title sponsors in white across the chest, collar and sleeve panelling.
Brand has had an exceptional cyclo-cross season securing 10 wins, including eight in her last 10 starts, to put herself atop the women’s World Cup, Superprestige and X2O Badkamers Trofee standings.
Baloise Trek Lions is led by programme manager Sven Nys, and between Brand, Toon Aerts and Lars van der Haar, they have combined for 35 podium finishes this year.
“We have a big group of riders that we want to support, from young kids up to the elite category,” Nys said. “And I think that with the sponsors that we have now in the team — Baloise and Trek — they have the same vision about how we want to work together as a team.”
The team’s sponsors include Baloise Insurance, Trek, SRAM, Renotec, Bontrager, and AA Drink.
“It’s definitely a difference when Trek is in the name compared to when it’s not,” Nys said. “And that’s going to help us show the world how hard we are working, and not only in Belgium but more international.
“The connection with our sponsors is really important. You see it directly when you can work with sponsors who are interested in the riders themselves. That works also on the other side, because then the riders become fans of the sponsors.”
The team also supports a promising youth development team AA Drink, along with junior riders, and their under-23 riders that include Yentl Bekaert, Ward Huybs, Marthe Truyen, Thibau Nys and Shirin van Arooij, now racing in the elite ranks.
“The biggest difference [in the team] is the boys who are coming from the junior category, and almost didn’t race on the roads last season because of the virus,” Nys said. “For the first time they are going to ride [road] stage races with the professional riders, and that’s going to give them a lot more confidence, but also a lot more power, a lot more speed, because they’re going to do races from a longer distance.
“If we work together, and give them also the time to recover from those stage races, then they’re going to have a really good cyclocross season next year. And that’s something I’m looking forward to.”
Van Arooij, who has signed with the Women’s WorldTour Trek-Segafredo in 2021, suffered a crash at the World Cup in Tabor in late November. The team confirmed that there is no date set for her return, but that the Lions are supporting her in every way they can, both in her immediate recovery and preparations for the year.
“It’s better to wait a week longer than come back too early, because maybe then you do two steps back instead of one step forward,” Nys said of Van Arooij’s recovery.
“You can imagine that if she’s riding on that level on the road, that’s going to give her so much more volume, so much more experience, when she’s coming into cyclocross. The experience we have with Lucinda and Toon is going to combine with the young guns that are coming up and create a higher level.”
Looking ahead, Baloise Trek Lions will focus on the Belgian Championships on January 10 with, Aerts in the elite ranks and Thibau Nys in the under-23 ranks. Brand, Van der Haar and Van Arooij were scheduled to compete in their Dutch Championships, however, the event has been cancelled due to COVID-19 coronavirus.
The team will then turn their attention to the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Oostende, where Brand has finished on the podium in the last three editions and a favourite to win the world title in 2021.
“What we see now is that Lucinda is the strongest girl in the field. She’s leading the pack in all GC classifications, so World Cup, X2O, Superprestige,” Nys said. “Yeah, that gives us a lot of confidence, but we are aware that a lot of the women that are riding with her are also pretty strong, and the sand at the World Championships, it’s something specific. So we train, we work hard and hope that she can be world champion for the first time in her career.”
Full Baloise Trek Lions press release 📰👇https://t.co/BDLEtg0cvWDecember 31, 2020