The Benelux Tour has been rebranded! It is now a race that both visits Belgium and the Netherlands.
A sprint with the historic KM-sprints with three sprints inside one kilometer. I assume they’ve carried over the 3, 2 and 1 bonus seconds from Benelux Tour. It will be a sprint where positioning is key in Ardooie.
A time trial. Important day in the GC finishing in Sluis near Museum Het Belfort Sluis
Cobblestones at the end of August? Yes please. We visit Berendries (Omloop Het Nieuwsblad + Ronde van Vlaanderen) but the two most known ones from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is the Muur – Kapelmuur (Geraardsbergen) and Bosberg. With bonus seconds after the penultimate time on Bosberg, expect the race to open early.
It should be another sprint
The race ends with a hilly stage in Belgium. It all depends on who wants what, the stage does not look as important as stage 3.
Stage 2 (TT), stage 3 and stage 5 is where you want to shine, if you want a chance to win this race.
Asgreen – I had high hopes for him at Worlds, I must admit. I think he had high hopes for himself. His body language told the whole story when he had to abandon. He has the attributes to fight for a solid placement here and Quick-Step do have a strong team to have numerical advantages in the two hilly stages if they want to. We will have to see if the Tour legs have run out of gas.
Lampaert – I think he provides an excellent option for Quick-Step. He was strong in Bemer Cyclassics, though he skipped a pull near the end which likely cost the trio the win. He can time trial and he can cope with the two tough days. I do not think it will be enough to win, but given his form, he will challenge for a top-5.
Mohoric – any gas left? He did brilliantly at Tour de Pologne, where he managed to only lose 25 seconds against the clock. If he can manage to do so again on stage 2, he has a very good chance of winning this title too.
Wright – he was not on his best form in the Tour de France. He has not been in top shape most of the year. I think the route suits him, as he is a rider with a strong time trial, a strong sprint and he was 8th at Ronde van Vlaanderen this spring. He provides as solid option for co-leadership with Mohoric.
Stuyven – not the best of years for Jasper. Yet, his recent 6th place at Worlds was positive. It seems every second year, he has a fantastic autumn and seeing he was not very good last year, well, you can guess the rest. He did a fantastic time against the clock earlier this year in Baloise Belgium Tour, finishing 5th – just 18 seconds down on Wærenskjold. If he can limit the damage, I think we have a podium contender.
Wellens – 82th in Bemer Classics. If you saw the race, you’d know the amazing work he did for the team. He has won the race twice in 2014 and 2015, with his worst result being 4th here the last 6 times he started. His time trial is looking good and so is his form. He is one of the favorites.
Campenaerts – the form is looking very good after the Tour de France. He does not spend a lot of time on the TT bike anymore but do not let that fool you, I think he still knows how to do it. His biggest weakness, in my opinion, is his lack of patience. Still, when it pays off attacking early, he is usually the one to benefit from it.
Van Moer – did well here in Denmark, a bit worse than I expected. Nonetheless, I think the race suits him and I think he can be a top-10 contender.
Madouas – he should be one of the favorites for the harder stages but the time trial is a problem.
SKA – depends on which shape he arrives in. Awfully inconsistent this year.
⭐⭐⭐ Stuyven, Mohoric
⭐⭐ Asgreen, Lampaert, Campenaerts
⭐ SKA, Madouas, Van Moer, Wright
Who will win?
I will take a win for Tim Wellens.