Much to his disappointment, Lander Loockx of Tour de Tietema-Unibet didn't participate in the European Championship last weekend. Nevertheless, he once again demonstrated his potential in the challenging Koppenbergcross, indicating that he's a contender to watch as he gears up for his first World Cup appearance in Dendermonde. Let's get acquainted with this amiable Belgian!
The Koppenberg is undeniably a legendary climb, but it's equally crucial not to be overly intimidated by it. Loockx, understanding this well, fearlessly seized the lead right from the start of the race. Ahead of established riders like Thibau Nys, Lars van der Haar, and Eli Iserbyt, the man sporting the colorful TDT-Unibet jersey took charge, a sight observed by team founder Bas Tietema, who was following the action from his team management course in Aigle. "Lander is a man on a mission," Tietema shared with the world on X.
Loockx attempted to ride 'economically' on the Koppenberg, but proved more challenging than expected
"I was somewhat surprised myself," Loockx admitted to IDLProCycling.com after the race. Despite having to catch his breath in the Flemish mud for several minutes post-race, he still had plenty of energy left after some rest. "On the Koppenberg itself, I got stuck in a bit of traffic and struggled to make my way through. However, I managed to find a path and ride the right lines." In fact, he rode so well that he found himself leading the race for a while. How did it feel to be at the front of the pack, racing against the crème de la crème of cyclocross?
"I found myself unexpectedly leading and even managed to create a gap for a moment," recounted the 26-year-old racer from Leuven in a composed manner. I tried to ride as efficiently as possible, but it wasn't as straightforward as I thought. In my eagerness, I made a small mistake, especially on the Koppenberg.
True to his sportsmanship, there was some disappointment afterward. Despite his strong start, Loockx finished just within the top ten at the Bult van Melden, where he had hoped for a better result. Unfortunately, on the final ascent of the Koppenberg, I experienced a mechanical failure, which forced me to dismount. That's where I lost a few positions, which was unfortunate. Nevertheless, all in all, it wasn't a bad race.
Undiscovered gem Loockx rides freely with Tour de Tietema-Unibet
Anyone closely following cross-country racing in the early weeks of the cyclocross season cannot overlook the impressive performance of the TDT-Unibet rider. Loockx acknowledged this compliment with a smile, as he is also experiencing a great deal of positivity within his new team.
"I had a strong start with the European Championship gravel, and I followed it up with good results in Beringen, Ardooie, and Woerden," says Loockx, who intends to shift his focus more towards road cycling starting next year. "It has been a positive beginning with the new team, which motivates me. Since joining this team, I've received more attention than I was accustomed to with my previous smaller team. That is certainly motivating," added the Belgian rider, who frequently features in the high-quality and well-received social media posts of the Tietema and company.
Could Loockx be a potential gem for them? Only time will tell. He is content with the opportunities he has had and will continue to have with the pro-continental team. "I used to ride in the background, and now I've had a chance to prove myself a few times, which was the goal. It's also beneficial looking ahead to the summer because I can ride with less stress during the winter. It's liberating," concludes the Tour de Tietema-Unibet rider.