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DE PANNE, Belgium (VN) — Tosh Van Der Sande won the under 23 Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year and signed with the Lotto-Belisol pro team. The 21-year-old Belgian is already itching for his first win.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s too early,” Van Der Sande told VeloNews, “but I want to win a race this year.”
He might have a chance because he not only has a cool first name, but he has talent. He won Liège-Bastogne-Liège last year and two stages at the Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux. At the UCI world championships, he placed ninth behind winner Arnaud Démare of France.
“He was one of the best riders last year and two years ago in our Davo feeder team,” said Lotto sports director, Herman Frison. “He’s 21 years old, but we are mostly going to field him for the 1.1 and 1.2 races.”
Van Der Sande raced his first WorldTour race, Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday.
“We’ve had some bad luck with riders, either at home or in the hospital. We only have six or seven for all these [cobbled] races. We said to him, ‘We know you are young, but come with us and race in Ghent-Wevelgem.'”
Racing in the Tour of Flanders tomorrow was also an option based on his performance in the Three Days of De Panne.
“I’m watching TV,” explained Van Der Sande. “I’m just 21, it’s a 260K race and it’s too early for me. It was close, but in the end, we decided its better not to.”
For now, the rider from Wijnegem, east of Antwerp, has been learning. In De Panne, he escaped and took the mountains jersey during the first leg. He helped keep the team’s sprinter, André Greipel in contention on the other stages, easily recognizable in the red classification jersey.
“I’m making the switch well and I’m happy I can race with the big guys,” Van Der Sande said. “It’s not just that I’m following.”
“We told him,” added Frison, “‘Go for the mountain points and get the jersey.’ It’s not big for the team but something for himself. For a 21-year-old, he has a good mentality; we asked and he did it.”
Though he won the amateur version of Liège, Milan-San Remo is his dream.
“Yeah, that’s my dream, but we’re not there yet!” he said. “I want to learn and grow. I want to move my way to the top, but steadily, over three to four years.”
“My mom said they wanted to call me Tosh because her name was Nancy, a common name. She wanted a name no one had. When they say Tosh, I know their talking about me. No one has it.”