Tosh van der Sande
Rider type: Sprinter / Allrounder / Classics
Bigget success: 1st, Lüttich-Bastogne-Lüttich U23
Team 2011: Omega Pharma - Lotto - Davo
Stagiaire: Omega Pharma-Lotto
Team 2012: Lotto-Ridley
Best Mock List placing: -
At the ENECO Tour 2011, young Belgian Tosh van der Sande became the topic of a heated debate between two top cycling experts. Is he a Classics specialist or more of a future top sprinter? No absolute answer to this question was reached, perhaps a further indication of the capabilities of this 20-year-old from Wiejnegem, who was born near Antwerp. At 1,78 meter tall, van der Sande weighs only 65 kilogram and falls into the range of a Cavendish or Guardini, who however both seem stockier. Is he then more of a specialist for difficult one-day races?
Speaking against this theory is the fact that van der Sande, who started with cycling when he was 12 and whose first club was the Edegem Bicycle Club from 2005 to 2007, originally came from the track, where he was very successful as a junior. In 2006 he was youth national champion in both scratch and points, and he repeated both titles as a junior in 2007. He also finished second in Madison and the team sprint. In 2008 he changed to the Avia Cycling Team Waaslalnd (which he looks back upon as his favourite team), and brought in further achievements on the track: He became Belgian champion in scratch, points, radison and team pursuit, all of which were outshadowed by his junion World Championship title in points and silver medal in Madison. He also brought in his first successes on the road, with two stage wins and second place overall in the Giro della Toscana (2.NC), a stage win at the Trofeo Karlsberg (2.NC, previous winners Sagan, Kwiatkowski, Lander), the Münsterland Giro (2.NC), ahead of Rowe, Arndt, and van Kiersbulck amongst others, and the Ronde van Antwerpen. So mabe he is a man for the mass sprints?
In 2009, his first of two years for the Wielergroep Beveren 2000, he was unable to answer this question, but it could be called a transitional or even a lost year. He did bring in two smaller wins (Ronde van Namen, Rijkevorsel), but nothing else. Whether he watched too much football being played by the Lierse SK, spent too much time with his girlfriend, watched too much tv, or ate too many of the popular Belgian french fries, we don't know.
Things were better in 2010 for van de Sande. His three wins (a criterim in Kapellen, a stage at the Trofee Essor Breto and a race in Borsbeck) were not prestigious, but a silver medal in Madison at the U-23 track World Championships was. At the U-23 version of the Scheldepreis, he finished second, as he did at a stage of the Tour de Liege, along with the Tour des Pyrenees (2.2) one of his favourite races. At the latter race he placed third in a sprint in Tarbe. He also finished tenth in the Espoirs Lüttich-Bastogne-Lüttich, winning the sprint of the favourites' group. So perhaps he is a climber with a good fast finish?
He came closer to his favourite rider Philippe Gilbert when he joined Davo, the farm team of Omega Pharma-Lotto, in 2011. Early in the year he won a U-23 race in Bissegem. He had troubles getting started at the Tour de Normandie (2.2), but finished as eighth overall, with a fourth place in the final mass sprint. A strong April followed, with its first season highlight, the Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux (2.2). Here van der Sande brought in two stage wins, one the sprint of a five-man group, the other ahead of Belgian sprinter Vangenechten. He finished fourth in the GC, out of the five escapees.
A slight tendency as a sprinter? He supported this with his fourth place at the U-23 Scheldepreis and the podium at La Cote Picarde (2.NC) behind Mock-List members Demare and Tsatevich. Only three days later the Belgian delivered an argument against that theory with his presumably biggest success to date, as he won the U-23 Lüttich-Bastogne-Lüttich out a ten-man group which included French riders Bardet and Eilssonde, Rabo Dutch riders Dumoulin and Goos as well as Jo-Piels rider Lindeman. Another step towards being a Classics specialist?
At least it was a step towards a pro contract, as it must have been about this time that van der Sande won his place as a stagiaire with Gilbert's team, as well as a pro contract as of 2012 with Team Lotto-Ridley, without Gilbert. That did not stop van der Sande from continuing at his high level. At the Vuelta a Navarra (2.2), he won the opening stage out of a 12-man lead group, further finished secnd, third and fourth, won the points ranking and finished seventh overall. Only two weeks later he finished second, third and fifth at the Tour of Slovakia (2.2), each time beaten by Giro stage winner Argentinian Ariel Richeze. He built up his palmares with a stage win and the points and young rider rankings at the Tour de Liege, and finished thrid overall. Whether he owed these results to his fast legs or to his climbing abilities, is up to each reader to decide for him or herself. It will remain exciting to follow the development of this major talent.
Nominated by virtualprofit, written by virtualprofit, translated by Tick