Lotto Belisol: Preview Tour de Wallonie
While the closing weekend of the Tour de France is coming up another tour begins in Belgium: the Tour de Wallonie. On Saturday the 20th of July the riders set off in Ans from where they cross the five regions of Wallonia in five stages. They arrive on Wednesday the 24th of July in Thuin.
The first three stages will lead the riders across a hard course through the provinces of Liège and Luxemburg. The roads and slopes are well known from Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a race that is part of the Ardennes Classics series. During the first stage the riders have to climb for example La Redoute, Stockeu, Haute-Levée and Maquisard and in the third stage they arrive in Bastogne. In addition during the third stage there will be raced on the challenging route of the Belgian Championship, which took place in June in La Roche-en-Ardenne. The last two stages across Wallonian-Brabant, Namur and Hainaut are a little less hard so there’s an increased chance of a bunch sprint.
For Jelle Vanendert the Tour de Wallonie counts as his comeback after a long absence because of illness. He had to abandon the Tour of the Basque Country with stomach problems and he couldn’t participate in the climbing classics series and the Tour de France. Jens Debusschere too is racing again for the first time in the Tour de Wallonie after he broke his ulna during the Tour of Switzerland.
Bart Leysen, sports director: “With The Tour de Wallonie the preparations for the late season kick off. Because the first three days of the race are comparable to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, this Tour will be rather hard in which especially the climbers can achieve a result. For our team this Tour is the first test to see how the shape of Jelle Vanendert, who just went on a climbing training, is progressing. Tim Wellens is also participating in the Tour de Wallonie and he has already proved in the Dauphiné that his climbing abilities are satisfactory. Moreover the course of this race is on his training track and this is definately an extra motivation for Wellens. Gert Dockx, who climbs well, is ready to race again after a short break en he will mainly work for Jelle and Tim. In the case of a bunch sprint in the last two stages we have Kenny Dehaes. Kenny already won four times this season so 2013 is his best year so far.”
Selection Lotto Belisol: Jens Debusschere, Kenny Dehaes, Gert Dockx, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Vanendert, Jonas Van Genechten en Tim Wellens
Sports directors: Bart Leysen en Jean-Pierre Heynderickx
Rit 1: Saturday the 20th of July: Ans – Eupen (183,6km)
Rit 2: Sunday the 21st of July: Verviers – Engis (174,4km)
Rit 3: Monday the 22nd of July: Beaufays – Bastogne (168,5km)
Rit 4: Tuesday the 23rd of July: Andenne – Clabecq (197,1km
Rit 5: Wednesday the 24th of July: Soignies – Thuin (207,1km)