What's Cool In Road Cycling

Ster ZLM Toer with Bart Leysen

It’s the one stage race after the other. The Critérium du Dauphiné came to an end yesterday, there is a peloton riding the Tour de Suisse and on Wednesday the Ster ZLM Toer begins. That’s a Dutch race on the Europe Tour calendar from Wednesday 17th June until Sunday 21st June.

The Ster ZLM Toer starts Wednesday evening with a prologue of 6.4 kilometres in the streets of Goes. The second stage is a complete flat one. The riders can explore the finish line four times before the actual end. First there are two big loops, then three laps of about fifteen kilometres. It’s very likely a bunch sprint will decide about the victory. Friday the race takes place in the province of Limburg, that means the course is hilly. There are six mountain sprints: Cauberg, Bemelerberg, Loorberg, Camerig, Gulperberg and Eyserbosweg. From the top of the last official climb it’s just less than one hundred kilometres to go. That doesn’t mean it’s flat afterwards. In the two local laps of 8.3 kilometres at the end the course is less difficult. Last year Greg Henderson was the best in Buchten.

Like the previous years the Ster ZLM Toer visits Belgium. There are again six mountain sprints on the course, but on Saturday they are more spread than in the third stage. One of them is on the famous La Redoute climb. The last sprint is on the hill where the finish line is drawn. Then there are two laps of 16.5 kilometres left to go. On the last day, when the race is back in the Netherlands, the sprinters have a new big chance in the stage to Boxtel, where André Greipel won last year. For André Greipel the Ster ZLM Toer is his last race, except for the German Championships, before the Tour de France.

Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal: “For Adam Hansen this is the first race since the Giro, Lars Bak took part in the Tour of Limburg last Sunday. André Greipel and Greg Henderson left the Giro earlier and already rode the Tour de Luxembourg. The opponents are stronger than in the Tour de Luxembourg. We want to win at least one stage this week, to leave to the Tour with a good feeling.”

“There are three big chances of a bunch sprint: Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The fourth stage to La Gileppe could end with a sprint of a reduced peloton. In the past André already took part in the sprint for the victory there. In the Giro he proved that his condition is excellent to follow uphill. If André is part of the first group at the end, will depend on how the others race; if the peloton falls apart or not. Saturday Sean De Bie, Adam Hansen and Dennis Vanendert may join a breakaway. The prologue is also something for Sean, he showed he’s in top shape in Luxembourg and this is one of his specialties.”

Selection Lotto Soudal: Lars Bak, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Marcel Sieberg and Dennis Vanendert.

Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Kurt Van de Wouwer.

Stage 1: Wednesday 17th June: Goes – Goes (6.4 km) (prologue)
Stage 2: Thursday 18th June: ’s-Hertogenbosch – Rosmalen (180.4 km)
Stage 3: Friday 19th June: Buchten – Buchten (190.5 km)
Stage 4: Saturday 20th June: Verviers – La Gileppe (Jalhay) (186.7 km)
Stage 5: Sunday 21st June: Eindhoven – Boxtel (183.1 km)

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