The Tour of Belgium (2.HC, 12-16/06), which moved several weeks on the international calendar, is built symmetrically. The five day race starts and ends with a sprinter's festival, on day one the finish is traditionally on De Wandelaar in Knokke-Heist and the final after five days racing is ridden on local laps in Beringen. A short flat 9.2 kilometer time trial in Grimbergen splits the week in two on Friday. The peloton encounters the routes of the Flemish classics from Knokke-Heist to Zottegem and the Ardennes classics around Seraing on the two remaining days, on Thursday and Saturday respectively. The Kapelmuur and the Berendries are among the difficulties in Flanders, while La Redoute, La Roche-Aux-Foucons, ... will be served to the peloton in the Ardennes.
Wanty-Gobert selected a full Belgian team for its national tour. Timothy Dupont is their card to play in both sprint stages. Three riders, Frederik Backaert, Jérôme Baugnies en Aimé De Gendt, will keep up their form from Tour de Luxembourg and go for the general classification. They will be assisted by Kevin Van Melsen, Loïc Vliegen and Pieter Vanspeybrouck.
Hilaire Van der Schueren, sports director:
« We want to score high with Dupont in the sprint stages. A lot will become clear for the general classification on day two, a mini Tour of Flanders. The time trial is our weak point, where we will try to limit the time gaps, time gaps we might have to make up in the Ardennes. The riders learnt in Tour de Luxembourg that in these kind of races each second counts, I will be hammering on this again this week. We have to keep an eye on the Golden Kilometer with bonification seconds. »
« I want to continue on the good flow of Tour de Luxemourg in the Tour of Belgium. We don't have one of the favorites in our team, but we do have a strong squad at the start in Sint-Niklaas. Especially the excellent collectivity in Luxembourg remained with me and I want to continue this. I haven't seen a seven man Wanty-Gobert train leading the peloton in the final often before, we can build on this experience! »
Aimé De Gendt
Kevin Van Melsen
Hilaire Van der Schuren
1. 12/06 : 184,8 km : St - Niklaas – Knokke-Heist
2. 13/06 : 180 km : Knokke-Heist - Zottegem
3. 14/06 : 9,6 km: Grimbergen – Grimbergen (tijdrit)
4. 15/06 : 151,1 km : Seraing – Seraing
5. 16/06 : 158,4 km : Tongeren - Beringen