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Lotto Belisol: One week to go till the cobblestone stage in the Tour de France

Next week it’s finally time! Then it’s the cobblestone stage in the Tour de France: Ypres – Arenberg Porte du Hainaut (155.5 km). This fifth stage, of which 54 kilometers are on Belgian soil, promises to be spectacular. On the route are 15.4 kilometers of cobblestones, divided over nine sectors from Paris-Roubaix. The GC riders will have to be alert not to lose any time.

Commemorate World War I
After 6.5 kilometers through the city centre of Ypres the stage officially starts at 14:00. The visit to Belgium leads the peloton throughout De Westhoek, where the commemoration of the First World War is always present. Not at least in Ypres, with among other the Menenpoort where every night at eight the Last Post can be heard. This since 1928. Along the course the Tour caravan will pass several war cemeteries.

The final kilometer
Lotto Belisol invites all fans for ‘The final kilometer’. In the Menenstraat in Mouscron one can send off the Lotto Belisol riders just before they leave Belgium. We ask to come in the team colour red and make a real party of that last kilometer on Belgian roads. There are fun prizes to win as well!

Nine sectors from Paris-Roubaix
After 87 kilometers of racing the first cobblestone section looms up. There are nine sectors from Paris – Roubaix on the route that day, good for 15.4 kilometers of cobblestones. The first stones are the ones in Gruson. During the Hell of the North this sector lies at only 14 kilometers from the finish. In the Tour the riders cover the sector towards Carrefour de l’Arbre. With a length of 1100 meters the Gruson sector is 100 meter longer than the one of Mons-en-Pévèle, the third sector of the day and the shortest. Next Wednesday only one third of the sector is covered compared to Paris-Roubaix. The sector of Mons-en-Pévèle is the only one who will be covered in the same direction as during the spring classic.

Nervous day for GC riders
With 3700 meters the sector Wandignies-Hamage – Hornaing is the longest one of the day. The last sector from Hélesmes to Wallers is 1600 meters long. Then it’s five kilometers till the finish in Arenberg. The Tour doesn’t go through the Forest of Wallers. For the GC riders it will definitely be a nervous day, they will have to be very alert to avoid losing time. After the classic races, at the end of April, Jurgen Van den Broeck did a first recon of this stage together with sports director Herman Frison. Two weeks ago most of the riders in the Tour selection of Lotto Belisol did a recon with the team. In 2010 the Tour had a cobblestone stage as well, then Jurgen Van den Broeck became 9th in the stage. After the first recon Van den Broeck said that his experience in the youth categories and of four years ago make he doesn’t dislike the stage.

Teammates are very important
Jurgen Van den Broeck:
Of course such a stage is not easy. The teammates are very important, four years ago they brought me towards the cobblestone sections perfectly. It’ a big advantage when you have men around you that are used to ride classics like Paris-Roubaix and to pull sprints. Doing a recon was important to me to know how the run-up to the sections is, how they look like and how this succession of sectors feels like.”

“Like everybody I’m nervous for this stage, but I definitely won’t start with too much fright, that’s not good for anything. You can’t control bad luck, but I certainly have a good feeling about racing on the cobbles. This kind of stage doesn’t really belong in the Tour according to me, but the last years one’s looking for spectacle. You have to take it as it comes.”

The cobblestone sections
. Gruson – Carrefour de l’Arbre (1100 m)
. Ennevelin – Pont-Thibaut (1400 m)
. Mons-en-Pévèle (1000 m)
. Bersée (1400 m)
. Orchies – Beuvry (1400 m)
. Sars-et-Rosières – Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes (2400 m)
. Brillon – Warlaing (1400 m)
. Wandignies-Hamage – Hornaing (3700 m)
. Hélesmes – Wallers (1600 m).


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