Benoot and Wellens, leaders for Il Lombardia
Preview of Milan-Turin, GranPiemonte and Il Lombardia
From Monday 13 August till Sunday 19 August the BinckBank Tour will take place: the only WorldTour stage race of the Low Lands. This seven-day race will start in the Dutch town of Heerenveen and will finish, to the BinckBank Tour’s tradition, near the mythical Muur van Geraardsbergen. Lotto Soudal has - besides two-time GC winner Tim Wellens - multiple trump cards to play.
In the first part of the race, the riders will contest the stage victory on flat roads, before heading to hillier grounds in the concluding weekend. The course doesn’t include, in contrast to previous editions, a stage in the Belgian Ardennes, implying that also typical classics riders will compete for the overall victory. This way, The BinckBank Tour will probably be defined by its time trial and the many bonus seconds that can be earned along the way and at the finish line. The concept of the ‘Golden Kilometre’ will also become more important as riders can win 9 bonus seconds in the closing kilometres.
Tim Wellens: “I’m feeling good. I gained confidence by securing the overall victory in the Tour de Wallonie, and it’s always nice to know you’re in good shape. I’ve just completed some intensive training days, so I hope to be totally ready by Monday to start the BinckBank Tour in the best way possible. I’m certainly looking forward to this Tour!”
“My goal is to claim the overall victory once more, though it will not be easy this time. The stage I usually win, has not been included in the course, so it will be more difficult to make a difference. This year, you don’t have to be a strong climber to win the Tour. My biggest opponent is the type of rider that is a good sprinter and time trialist. The time trial and bonus seconds along the way play an important role in determining the general classification. The first small differences will appear in the time trial on Tuesday and will partly decide the overall standings at the end.”
My biggest opponent is the type of rider that is a good sprinter and time trialist.
“The two final stages are a bit more difficult, but not tough enough to make any big time differences. Yet, they will play their part and riders who don’t own the best time trial or sprinting skills, but aspire the overall victory will probably try to make their move in these stages. I’m certainly going to try as well, but much will depend on how the race unfolds itself.”
Frederik Willems, sports director Lotto Soudal: “Thanks to Tim Wellens, we were able to take the overall win twice. It won’t be an easy edition as this year’s Tour will – even more – come down to details. Since there’s no stage in the Ardennes anymore, the overall victory will be determined by bonus seconds, especially in the first part of the race. Though, the final stage to Geraardsbergen, this year almost 220 kilometres in length may not be underestimated. And of course, we also have to take into account the typical Belgian weather that is predicted.”
“We have a strong and versatile team, which consists of riders for the overall victory, but also of strong sprinters to take a stage win in the several flat stages at the beginning. Regarding the GC, we have Tim Wellens, but also reigning European time trial champion, Victor Campenaerts, who I believe is capable of moving into the leader’s jersey after the time trial on Tuesday. He’s in really good shape as he prepared himself well for the European Championships by training hard and staying at altitude. If he manages to win the time trial, I consider him to defend the leader’s jersey for a long time. As for the bunch sprints, we can count on Jasper De Buyst and Jens Debusschere, who recently showed his fast legs again by sprinting to a stage victory in Tour de Wallonie."
Line-up Lotto Soudal: Victor Campenaerts, Jens Debusschere, Jasper De Buyst, Frederik Frison, Nikolas Maes, Rémy Mertz and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Frederik Willems and Bart Leysen.
Stage 1 Monday 13 August : Heerenveen – Bolsward (177,3 km)
Stage 2 Tuesday 14 August: Venray – Venray (12,7 km) (TT)
Stage 3 Wednesday 15 August: Aalter – Antwerpen (174,9 km)
Stage 4 Thursday 16 August: Blankenberge – Ardooie (166,3 km)
Stage 5 Friday 17 August: Sint-Pieters-Leeuw – Lanaken (204,4 km)
Stage 6 Saturday 18 August: Riemst – Sittard-Geleen (182,2 km)
Stage 7 Sunday 19 August: Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure - Geraardsbergen (215,6 km)