"I think I started puberty a little later than the rest and I'm maturing a little later" - Lennert Van Eetvelt keen to kick-on after breakthrough UAE Tour success

In something of a turn up for the books, Lotto Dstny's Lennert Van Eetvelt took a stunning stage win atop Jebel Hafeet on the final stage of the 2024 UAE Tour, making enough of a gap to secure the general classification in the process.

"Competing with those men is what I had hoped for," he reflects in conversation with Het Nieuwsblad. "Last year I already had the feeling that I was not far from that level and I had been making very big steps every year in recent years. I knew that if I took another step this year, I would get very close to that level. So it is in line with my progression. I think I started puberty a little later than the rest and I'm maturing a little later than the rest."

Undoubtedly the biggest win of his career to date, the 22-year-old saw off competition from more renowned riders such as Ben O'Connor, Pello Bilbao and Jay Vine to secure the overall victory. "I now know what I can do and I hope to do it again," he continues confidently, eyeing the Volta a Catalunya. "Winning will be very difficult, but maybe I will go there now with the ambition to finish on the podium instead of a place in the top ten. By nature I am more of a puncher than a climber. So I'm very curious to see how I will like these races with the pros."

"The goal for the Vuelta would depend on how the stage races in the WorldTour would go at the beginning of the year," he concludes. "But in the long term that is what I want to work towards. More and more Belgians have ambitions in the Grand Tours. It crept into me little by little. The more races I ride, the more I start to enjoy riding a classification, the more I can handle that pressure."

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