What's Cool In Road Cycling

Preview Ster ZLM Toer

This week Lotto Soudal will participate in the Ster ZLM Toer. This five-day Dutch Europe Tour stage race starts on Wednesday with a prologue in Zeeland. Saturday there’s the traditional Belgian stage. The race ends on Sunday in Oss, In Noord-Brabant.

The past years the prologue was held in Goes. This year Westkapelle will host the prologue. The riders need to cover 7.5 kilometres along the North Sea. The day after, the stage takes the riders from Tholen to Hoogerheide. The third stage is a classic in the Ster ZLM Toer. That day the race is organised in Dutch Limburg where the route takes the riders over some hills from the Amstel Gold Race: Cauberg, Bemelerberg and Loorberg. On Saturday the race heads to Belgium with a start in Verviers and finish in Jalhay. This is, in theory, the hardest stage of the entire week. Moreno Hofland won that stage in 2015. The last day the sprinters get a chance to show their speed in Oss.

Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal: “The first and second stage are new in the Ster ZLM Toer, but I expect a similar scenario to the previous years, that means no large time gaps and possibly a big influence of the bonus seconds.”

“The prologue is always important in the Ster ZLM Toer. If the weather conditions differ between the moment that the first and last rider are on the course that could influence the result. Jasper De Buyst, André Greipel and Moreno Hofland can all ride a good prologue tomorrow. The bonus seconds will be important the days after and then it’s an asset to be fast.”

“In the stages on Thursday and Sunday there is a chance that echelons will be created in the open fields along the water. In the stage to Hoogerheide the course runs along the Oosterschelde and Oss lies at the borders of the Maas. Both days we will need to be very attentive and maybe take initiative ourselves. In theory the stage to Jalhay is the hardest one of the week, but if the peloton falls apart on Thursday that could cause more damage.”

“André Greipel had to pass for the Hammer Series due to illness and got back in competition in Rund um Köln on Sunday. For three hours the pace was very high, but André didn’t have any problems. In the Ster ZLM Toer he can continue his Tour preparation. With the Tour in mind he will probably want to ride a good prologue. André is also someone who dares to take control of the race and can make the race hard. This week he could help out a teammate who is standing high on GC, by taking away bonus seconds from the opponents or by helping him to gain the seconds. André won’t be our only sprinter this week, we also have Jasper and Moreno in the team. But we will definitely do a real lead-out for André at least once this week.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Kris Boeckmans, Jasper De Buyst, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Moreno Hofland, Marcel Sieberg and Enzo Wouters.
Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Stage 1 Wednesday 14 June: Westkapelle – Westkapelle (7.5 km) (Prologue)
Stage 2 Thursday 15 June: Tholen – Hoogerheide (186.8 km)
Stage 3 Friday 16 June: Buchten – Buchten (210 km)
Stage 4 Saturday 17 June: Verviers – La Gileppe (Jalhay) (186 km)
Stage 5 Sunday 18 June: Oss – Oss (180.9 km)

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