Fans will likely see his red and white Lotto-Soudal jersey as soon as the road dips downhill on the sloppy and slippery sectors of Tuscany’s “white roads.”
“I like Strade Bianche more because it has gravel that goes downhill,” Wellens said. “It’s easier when you are in the front to drop the others. It’s all about positioning when you go on gravel downhill, so that’s the main difference.”
Being at the pointy end of the race is exactly where Wellens hopes to be Saturday.
Lotto-Soudal officials confirmed to VeloNews that Wellens will start Saturday. The Belgian star was sidelined for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad due to a late-hour stomach bug, but is clearly coming on to top form in time for a run at the Strade Bianche podium.
Despite the hiccup last weekend, officials said Wellens was “already feeling better” Sunday, and will join the team in Italy.
Wellens is ripping in the early races in 2022, and will be one of the hot favorites for Strade Bianche.
“I have good memories there, I was third there once, a top-10,” Wellens said. “I like to ride on the gravel, so I am looking forward to riding Strade.”
Also read: Wellens, Vanmarcke miss Omloop
Wellens is already a winner of two races in 2022 (one day at Mallorca Challenge and a stage at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes Haut Var with second overall), and second at the Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior.
Wellens was second at the new Spanish race, with only Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan) bettering him in the new race dubbed the “Strade Bianche” of Spain when it made its debut last month on the dirt roads across Spain’s “sea of olives.”
“Indeed, it is a little bit compatible, but let’s be honest, the level will be higher because it’s WorldTour,” Wellens said of Strade Bianche. “Nevertheless, it’s nice to be second here.”
💬”With the way the team worked tirelessly to put me in the perfect position, it was just a joy to race like this.”
— Lotto Soudal (@Lotto_Soudal) February 19, 2022
It’s no secret that Wellens is one of the best handlers in the peloton, so it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that he would thrive on the more technical, sloppier, and looser gravel at Strade Bianche. He captured the attention of keen observers of narrow handlebars that he was riding on in early races.
Wellens was licking his lips in anticipation of Strade Bianche, where his bike-handling chops will give him an advantage in what will be a wide-open race.