Benoot solos to victory in Silkeborg!
Jasper De Buyst made it a one-two for Lotto Soudal.
From Wednesday 12 June until Sunday 16 June, the 89th edition of the Baloise Belgium Tour will take place. The peloton will start this five-day stage race in Sint-Niklaas and will finish in Beringen. With two flat stages, two hilly courses and an individual time trial, the Baloise Belgium Tour nearly has got it all. Also the ‘Golden Kilometre’, the unique bonification system in the deep finale could play a crucial role in this Belgian stage race.
Lotto Soudal rider Jens Keukeleire won the previous two editions of the Baloise Belgium Tour. This year, the team will again target the overall victory and starts with a strong line-up. Tim Wellens and Victor Campenaerts will be the leaders. Sports director Kevin De Weert has a lot of faith in his team.
De Weert: “The course of the Baloise Belgium is similar to the ones from previous years. With a stage towards the coast, one in the Flemish Ardennes and a tough day out in the Ardennes, there is something for everyone. The Baloise Belgium Tour often is a game of seconds and also the ‘Golden Kilometre’ is usually really important. The queen stage will be ridden on Saturday. Apart from various other climbs, the riders will deal with a double ascent of the Roche-aux-Faucons in the finale. The tough climb, famous from Liège-Bastogne-Liège, will be crucial during Saturday’s stage.”
“With Victor Campenaerts and Tim Wellens, we have two strong leaders within our line-up. Victor just finished the Giro d’Italia and should be in good shape. Tim Wellens is building up towards the Tour de France and should also be able to battle for the victory. First and foremost, Victor will have to ride the best possible time trial. Hopefully, we can obtain a nice position in the general classification there and afterwards, it will mainly be about taking advantage of our two trump cards, especially during Saturday’s stage.”
“The time trial in Grimbergen is with a distance of nine kilometres relatively short. Victor prefers a longer time trial – ideally around the hour – but he already proved that short distances do suit him as well, something we have already seen in the Tirreno-Adriatico closing time trial. The test against the clock in Grimbergen includes some technical corners but there are enough straight sections where Victor can benefit from his power and aerodynamic advantage. I am also curious about how Brent Van Moer will perform in his first individual time trial with the pros. Therefore, I would like that he can take it a bit easy during the first two stages.”
“With Tim and Victor in our line-up, the other Lotto Soudal riders will mainly have a serving role. Iversen and Frison are two strong riders who should be able to support the team really well. Jelle Wallays – who was very strong in the Ardennes stage last year – is riding his first race kilometres after a lot of bad luck the past few months. With Adam Blythe – who’s also back to racing after some physical problems in the Tour de Romandie – we will try to be up there in the possible bunch sprints.”
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Adam Blythe, Victor Campenaerts, Frederik Frison, Rasmus Byriel Iversen, Brent Van Moer, Jelle Wallays and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Kevin De Weert and Kurt Van de Wouwer.
Stage 1 Wednesday 12 June: Sint-Niklaas – Knokke-Heist (184.3 km)
Stage 2 Thursday 13 June Knokke-Heist – Zottegem (180.8 km)
Stage 3 Friday 14 June: Grimbergen – Grimbergen (ITT – 9.2 km)
Stage 4 Saturday 15 June: Seraing – Seraing (151.1 km)
Stage 5 Sunday 16 June: Tongeren – Beringen (158.4 km)