Baloise Belgium Tour – Martin Elmiger: “I want to enjoy myself”
THE PREPARATION: “I had to wear a cast for six weeks after I fractured my scaphoid,” Martin Elmiger explained. “When I was then able to resume training, I mainly used my time trial bike. It helped me to stabilize my wrist. These past two weeks, I have been attending an altitude training camp under the direction of Marcello Albisini at the Säntis in Switzerland. I don’t know how my body will react. An altitude training camp like this is a first for me. The Tour of Belgium will be a great race to get a foot back into the stirrups again. I want to enjoy myself. I feel good, but my main objective will remain the Tour of Switzerland.”
THE OBJECTIVE: “We are counting on a stage win,” Lionel Marie, one of the directeurs sportifs along with Eddy Seigneur, said. “For the mass finishes, Jonas Van Genechten will be our designated sprinter. Some stages could be very good for him. Friday and Saturday’s stages will be wonderfully difficult. The peloton will return to the steep climbs and cobbled sections of the Flanderian classics such as the Paddestraat, the Leberg, and the Valekenberg. The penultimate stage with then borrow the climbs of La Redoute and the Bois du Loup. Dries Devenyns and Oliver Naesen will be at home for these stages. It will be a strong point. Finally, Reto Hollenstein will be off the leash to show his power in the prologue. He could very well create a nice surprise.”
THE CAPTAIN: Martin Elmiger. Having not raced since April 3rd when he fractured his left scaphoid in a crash at the Tour of Flanders, Martin Elmiger will be slowly wading back into competition. Lionel Marie confirms, though that Elmiger will be a key player for the IAM Cycling team. “I am very happy for his return,” Marie explained. “Martin is a fundamental element of the team. He’s a bit of the sage in the group. And his experience combines perfectly well with the ambitions of the team.”
THE QUEEN STAGE: Saturday’s stage will be akin to a mini Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Among the 12 expected difficulties, the Cote de la Redoute will remind the riders of la Doyenne. Considering the challenging profile of the entire stage, it will be important to be resilient. With 206.9 kilometers to cover, the third stage will be the longest of the Tour of Belgium. “The advantage is that we know these roads,” Elmiger interjected. “Dries Devenyns is motivated by the desire to have a good result in his home region, just as Oliver Naesen is. Unfortunately, we will not be the only ones with intimate knowledge of the route.”
THE SPECIFICS: The Golden Kilometer. Introduced last year, the Golden Kilometer will be included in each of the race’s stages. Usually placed about twenty kilometers from the finish, it includes three bonus sprints within one kilometer, or one every 500 meters. Each sprint gives the riders a chance to pocket 3, 2, and 1 bonus seconds. It is a “guaranteed spectacle,” according to Martin Elmiger.
Clément Chevrier (F)
Dries Devenyns (Bel)
Martin Elmiger (S)
Reto Hollenstein (S)
Oliver Naesen (Bel)
Vicente Reynes (Esp)
Aleksejs Saramotins (Let)
Jonas Van Genechten (Bel)
Manager sportif: Rik Verbrugghe
Directeurs sportifs: Eddy Seigneur, Lionel Marie.