With Benelux Tour (2.WT, 30/08-5/09) as new name, the only World Tour stage race on Dutch and Belgian soil starts this Monday. Riders with rainbow dreams are looking forward to the seven day race, because the event is appreciated by classic riders. But there are also opportunities for sprinters and time trialists. The difficulty of the stages goed crescendo during the week, with an entirely flat opening stage in Friesland. The wind in the open fields between Surhuisterveen and Dokkum could disturb the plans of the sprinters. An individual time trial of 11.1 kilometer is planned the next day. Also the third and fourth day are entirely flat, with typical sprint finishes in Hoogerheide and Ardooie.
In contrary, the center of gravity is in the weekend with hilly stages in Limburg, the Wallonian and Flemish Ardennes. On Friday, thirteen hills between Riemst and Bilzen have to be covered. The next day, 2833 meters of climbing have to be ridden between Ottignies and Houffalize. The tour will be concluded by the traditional stage around Geraardsbergen.
Taco van der Hoorn, stage winner in 2018, will represent Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, which will be directed by sports directors Hilaire Van der Schueren et Steven De Neef. Sprinter Danny van Poppel finished numerous times in the top 10 in stages of the Benelux Tour and will be the leader for the flat stages.Next to him, his brother Boy van Poppel and the Italian rider Andrea Pasqualon have also shown their fast legs this season. Ludwig De Winter from Binche knows the roads very well just like Pieter Vanspeybrouck who will participate for the 12th time. Aimé De Gendt, 3rd in the Druivenkoers and 2nd in the Brussels Cycling Classic will take advantage of his excellent form on his preferred terrain.
Stage 1 (30/8): Surhuisterveen – Dokkum (169,6 km)
Stage 2 (31/8): Lelystad – Lelystad (11 km) (= ITT)
Stage 3 (01/9): Essen – Hoogerheide (168,3 km)
Stage 4 (02/09): Aalter – Ardooie (166,1 km)
Stage 5 (03/09): Riemst – Bilzen (192,0 km)
Stage 6 (04/09): Ottignies – Houffalize (207,6 km)
Stage 7 (05/09): Namur – Geraardsbergen (181,8 km)
Aimé De Gendt
Ludwig De Winter
Taco van der Hoorn
Boy van Poppel
Danny van Poppel
Hilaire Van der Schueren
Steven De Neef