"You don't necessarily have to be the very best to win" - Can Tiesj Benoot carry weight of Visma expectations at Amstel Gold Race?

With a depleted Team Visma | Lease a Bike looking to stay optimistic after the brutal crashes of Wout van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard and Wilco Kelderman recently. Holding their hopes at the upcoming Amstel Gold Race are Tiesj Benoot and Matteo Jorgenson.

"The race suits me well. I hope to be close to it again this year. I like the twists and turns and the shorter slopes. It took me a few years to get to know the roads well, but now that's no longer a problem. I'm really looking forward to it," previews Benoot, a podium finisher at the Amstel Gold Race in 2022, in conversation with Sporza. "Perhaps this is the classic that suits me best. Liège-Bastogne-Liège also suits me well, but that race is so fair that I often bump into the real climbers on the Roche-aux-Faucons. The Gold Race is still a bit more tactical, you don't necessarily have to be the very best there to win."

Although he finished 4th at the Tour of Flanders, Benoot's hopes at his last race, the Tour of Flanders were ruined by a late mechanical. "If I am at the same level in the coming week, I can compete for victory." he assesses confidently. "Being in the final with the big names, that is the most important thing, and then hopefully getting a good result."

As mentioned though, it hasn't been an easy few weeks for Team Visma | Lease a Bike. "But we can hardly say that our spring was bad," Benoot insists. "We won both races of the opening weekend, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico. The expectations are high, and there was a lot of bad luck involved, but there was much more to it. The atmosphere remained very good, also in the run-up to the Tour of Flanders. Of course it was a shame that we lost Wout, but this team is strong in making the transition. We did not cry in a corner."

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