Loïc Vliegen: “I’m happy to turn pro with BMC”
Born in Rocourt, a suburb of Liège, Loïc Vliegen didn’t need too much time to put his cards on the table, standing out from his early days as a Junior, before signing with BMC Development, a team that nurtured his talent and helped him develop his qualities, thanks to which many began talking about Loïc as the new gem of the Belgian cycling for the hilly one-day races.
After a strong first half of the season in 2014 – during which he won a stage and the GC in the Triptyque Ardennaise – BMC offered him a role as a stagiaire and he didn’t disappoint, scoring top 10 placings in both Ride London Classic and the Arctic Race of Norway, both races being known not only for their tough course, but also for the weather which always makes an impact on the final classification.
Fast forward to 2015, and Loïc Vliegen’s palmares for this season already includes Flèche Ardennaise, stage wins at the Tour de Bretagne, Course de la Paix and the Tour des Pays de Savoie, as well as runner-up spots at the Tour de Bretagne and Course de la Paix, all these results (four victories, three podiums and seven top 10 placings) making him one of the most successful and consistent U23 cyclists of the year.
An impressive puncheur, Loïc Vliegen is also a very versatile rider, who seems to have an unlimited potential that allows him to make further developments in the years to come and turn into a protagonist also on the mountains. Until then, he’ll have a busy summer, as the 21-year-old recently became the third cyclist to be promoted from the US-registered team to BMC, after Silvan Dillier and Stefan Küng, and awaits his pro debut with a lot of confidence, especially after his string of successes in the U23 ranks.
– Loïc, how did you start cycling?
I come from a family of cyclists. My father and my grandfather were good amateurs and my granduncle was a pro in the ‘50s. So it was logical for me to become a cyclist.
– How were your first years, what do you remember from that period?
I began racing when I was 14-years-old and I scored four victories back then. I have nice memories of my first race, which took place in Achene (Namur), where I came fourth. It was really exciting and I was happy for coming so close of winning the race.
– As an U23 rider, you joined BMC Development. How was your spell with the team?
It was a good choice for me in 2013 to go to BMC Devo. You can’t wish for a better staff and equipment. I had the perfect environment to improve as an amateur and I learned a lot in races like the Tour du Normandie and Tour de Bretagne. Another important step for me was becoming a stagiaire last year, because by doing this I got to gain valuable experience in pro races.
– In the first half of 2015, you scored many important results, stage wins and GC placings alike. Which was the most important for you and why?
I’d have to say that the best victory of the year was Flèche Ardennaise, because it was really special for me. It was my home race, with the finish taking place just 500 meters from my house. A lot of supporters and people were waiting me to win this race, I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders and I showed that I can win this race as the favorite. This is important for me if one day I will encounter a similar pressure in a pro race. I have good memories of this event, because I’ve never seen so many people supporting me during a race. It was a really nice feeling to get the win.
– You’ve now turned pro with BMC. What does this transfer mean for you and your career?
I’m really happy to turn pro with the BMC Racing Team, because I’m in my third year in this structure and I’m content to see they have confidence in me for three years now.
– With what hopes are you embarking on this adventure?
I would like to learn a lot and to see how things are going at World Tour level. If I’ll ride with a leader in such a race, I’m sure I’ll gain experience, which will be very good for the years to come. Also, if the team will give me some freedom, I’ll try to get results in smaller races.
– And in which races will you go in the next weeks?
I’ll do the Grand Prix Pino Cerami, the Tour de Wallonie, Clasica San Sebastian and the Eneco Tour.