"I will always remember this day" - Arnaud De Lie will get to wear Belgian champion's jersey at his Tour de France debut

Arnaud De Lie won the Belgian title in Zottegem after a mighty sprint. Not even sprinter superstars Jasper Philipsen (2nd) and Tim Merlier (6th) could match De Lie's raw power in the final straight. The Lotto Dstny rider thus ends a difficult period. He saw the spring fall by the wayside due to Lyme disease.

De Lie was on another level in the uphill finish in Zottegem. "I know it here very well. It's always difficult. I'm not a real sprinter, but I'm always good at this finish. Today was Lotto Dstny day. Ten years ago Jens Debusschere won the last Belgian title, now we are champions again. I will always remember this day," said the 22-year-old rider in a flash interview with Sporza afterwards.

De Lie did not have an easy spring due to Lyme disease. He speaks about the period very emotionally afterwards. "It is unbelievable. During the classics I was mentally broken. I made a lot of sacrifices to be good then, but I had a lot of bad luck with Lyme disease," he said.

But now he seems to have found his good form again. Just in time for his Tour de France debut next week. "I feel good now. The fact that I can wear the Belgian champion jersey during my first Tour is very special," said the fast Belgian.

De Lie also expressed his gratitude to his teammate Victor Campenaerts, who rode the entire race in a breakaway ahead of the peloton, whittling down the forces of De Lie's opponents while his Lotto Dstny could save themselves for final kilometers. "Victor was the first attacker and he was in the lead until six kilometers before the finish. He was my driving force today. He will leave for another team after this season, but he will always have a place in my heart," he concluded.

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