This weekend, the Lombard Lorenzo Rota will pin his first number of the season on his Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux kit in the Boucles Drôme-Ardèche, a jersey he will wear at least until the end of 2024. The 26 year old Italian puncher extended his contract for one additional year with the Belgian World Team, in which he was one of the revelations in season 2021.
During his first year in the team of Jean-François Bourlart, Rota achieved several places of honor in transalpine one day races, for example in the Trofeo Laigueglia (10th), the Tour of Tuscany (4th), the Coppa Sabatini (5th) and Tre Valli Varesine (7th). But one of his best performances occurred at the Clasica San Sebastian, when he finished fourth after a crash in the final kilometers.
In addition to his prowess in classics, he showed himself in one week stage races of the World Tour calendar by finishing as the first rider of the team in the Tirreno-Adriatico (22nd) and the Tour of Poland (12th). In 2021, Rota overcame an injury in the first week of his first Tour de France and concluded the Grand Tour with a top ten in the stage towards Saint-Gaudens.
Just like last year, Rota will start his season with two semi-classics in the hilly Drôme and Ardèche regions. The parcours of the Faun-Ardèche Classic (1.Pro, 26/02) remained unchanged compared to last year and offers a succession of nine categorized climbs in 171 kilometer around Guilherand-Granges, including three repetitions of the Val d’Enfer (1.5 km at 10.3%) and Saint Romain de Lerps (6.3 km at 7.1%) and totaling to 3000 climbing meters.
On Sunday, the organization of the Drôme Classic (1.Pro, 27/02) designed a loop of 50 kilometer around Etoile-sur-Rhône containing the Mur d’Eure, the Mur d’allee and the Plateau du Soullier which has to be covered three times. The third lap is extended with the Col de la Grande Limite (3.9km at 6.6%) and the Côte des Roberts (4.2km at 4.9%). The winner will be known after 191 kilometer.
Next to Rota, Jan Bakelants will participate in the Boucles Drôme-Ardèche. The Belgian rider finished twice on the podium of the Drôme Classic (2nd in 2016 and 3rd in 2017). Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay (7th in the Drôme Classic) and the Belgian rider Laurens Huys (13th in the Faun-Ardèche Classic) distinguished themselves in the final of the races last year. Sports directors Jean-Marc Rossignon and Frederik Veuchelen can also rely on Frenchmen Théo Delacroix and Hugo Page, who contributed to the collective victory in the Tour of Oman, Italian climber Simone Petilli and German rider Georg Zimmermann.