What's Cool In Road Cycling

Preview Eurometropole Tour

Tour de l’Eurométropole is one of the last stage races this year. Over the last years, sprinters played a huge role in this Tour. Riders such as Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) and Arnaud Démare (FDJ) won the general classification in the last two editions. This year could be different as the Tour starts with a prologue.

On the opening day there is a rolling prologue of 7.8 kilometres with finish on Mont-Saint-Aubert. This hill is 700 metres long with an average gradient of 8%. The first stage starts in La Louvière and heads towards the Flemish Ardennes. During these 164 kilometres, the riders face five climbs. The day after, the start will be given in front of the mythical Vélodrome de Roubaix. This stage looks promising as the riders will cover four local laps of 26 kilometres in “Heuvelland” where they will climb the Zandeberg, Rodeberg and Zwarteberg during each lap.

During the third stage, Belgian coast cities host the start – and finish towns. The peloton starts in Blankenberge, goes towards Roeselare and returning to the coast side to finish in Nieuwpoort. The wind could be a determining factor in this stage. Otherwise, we are probably facing a bunch sprint. The last stage of this Tour de l’Eurométropole finishes like last year in Tournai. The peloton concurs the Croix de Jubaru seven times. This climb is situated next to the Mont-Saint-Aubert, the final climb in the prologue. The past years have taught us that avoiding a bunch sprint is a hard thing to do in this stage. Several riders tried to attack on the final climb during previous editions, but only few succeeded. Time will tell who will triumph, the attackers or the sprinters.

Mario Aerts: “We can certainly start this stage race with ambition and self-confidence. The whole team has shown during the last two weeks that they are in perfect condition. Both Jens Debusschere, Sean De Bie and Tosh Van de Sande won last week. Jens and Jürgen Roelandts are our two key riders for this race. Both are in good shape and capable of winning this stage race, like they already did in the past. This gives the confidence needed to go for it once more.”

“The big difference with the previous editions is the prologue. Previous years there was no prologue and every second counted to win the general classification. This year, things could be different. The prologue is pretty hard. The final climb, Mont-Saint-Aubert, is not very long but there will be some time difference in the general classification. In our team, Jens, Jürgen and Sean can definitely handle this type of prologue. Sean is a prologue specialist. In the case of Jens and Jürgen, they need to make sure that they don’t lose toomuch time considering their general classification ambitions. After this stage we will make our battle plan for the next days.”

“During the next days, the weather conditions will play an important role. Both Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be tricky days for echelons. The stage on Friday will be the second important day for the general classification. The three climbs on the local lap will trigger the guys with GC-ambition to attack. During the last stage in Tournai I expect the same race scenario as in previous years. The final climb, Croix du Jubaru, is not long enough to break the peloton. Jens Debusschere has already shown that he’s capable of putting down a good result in this stage by sprinting for victory in the past editions.”
“We don’t need to be afraid to race. Our team is strong enough. If we believe in our own strength, it could result in something beautiful. The Tour would be a success if we won at least one stage and played a role in the general classification. We can’t be satisfied with less.”

Selection:
Stig Broeckx
Sean De Bie
Thomas De Gendt
Jens Debusschere
Kenny Dehaes
Pim Ligthart
Jürgen Roelandts
Tosh Van der Sande.

Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Marc Wauters.

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