Overijse > Overijse 185km
The organisers have made some changes to the route this year, the main one being the removal of the Moskesstraat, which is good news for some. The circuit is still a tough one, but with only 2100m of climbing, sprinters will hope to be fighting for the win. It all depends on how the teams race the circuit, there’s plenty of opportunities to split the race up.
Sunny and warm, temperatures will hit 30 degrees. There’s a bit of wind around, but nothing by Belgian standards.
The circuit has four main climbs:
S-Bend Overijse – 1000m at 4.7%.
Horenberg – 450m at 7.1%. Max gradient of 19%!
Veeweide – 450m at 5.3%.
Smeysberg – 650m at 7.6%.
The S-bend is new to the race this year, but you know it from De Brabantse Pijl, but it’s not the exact same. Once the S bend is done, the riders head right and up a different street compared to De Brabantse Pijl, there’s a short section of cobbles too. The Horenbeg is also new, it’s quite steep but relatively short. Both Veeweide and Smeysberg were in last year’s race, but the Smeysberg is now the last climb and much closer to the finish. Last time up, there’s only 6km to go from the crest.
As always, the teams will decide the type of race we get. The start list isn’t full of the “big” teams, Arkéa, Alpecin, Cofidis and Intermarché are the world tour teams, with Lotto and Uno-X the main pro conti squads here. Both the French teams only have 5 riders, controlling this race is basically impossible, which makes a sprint finish unlikely. Teams will fire riders up the road in an effort to split the race up, and eventually a group will get away and fight out the win, this group should still feature some fast men, the route is a good one for them as well as the puncheurs.
Lotto Dstny have been dominating smaller races recently, but they don’t have bully boy De Lie here, he’s racing in Germany on Sunday. The team is still strong, they’ll be one of the main aggressors, as should Uno-X. The key is to get multiple riders in the front group, that increases your chances of taking the win. One thing is certain, no one will want to take Kristoff to the line, Uno-X will find it very hard to control the race for him.
Victor Campenaerts – played a massive part in De Lie’s win in the Tour of Leuven, he’s got Tour Legs. This is a great race for Victor, he’ll be team leader and allowed to do his thing. He’s tried to turn himself into a classics rider in the last couple of years, but it’s not gone according to plan. I don’t think he can beat the best riders in the world in the biggest races, but in a race like this he should be very hard to beat.
Milan Menten – provides Lotto with an excellent sprint option. Milan has enjoyed his move back to his old team, he won Le Samyn and has been close to other wins in recent months. He’s not just a sprinter, he doesn’t mind a tough day in the saddle.
Jenthe Biermans – started the year with a brilliant win in the Muscat Classic but has struggled to live up to the expectations that win created. This should be a good race for him, he’s got a fast finish after a tough day.
Hugo Hofstetter – he’s not been at his usual level this year, I’m not sure why.
Axel Zingle – was very strong in the Tour of Leuven, 4th place was a bit harsh on him. He’s a top-class racer, I’m a big fan of his. This is the type of race he should be winning, but Cofidis look on the weak side to me, he could find himself outnumbered in the front group, just like on Tuesday.
Dries De Bondt – Alpecin usually perform well in these races, but they are without their big names for this one. De Bondt is a good option for them, he should cope okay with the hills and doesn’t mind taking a risk.
Mike Teunissen – about as perfect a race he’s likely to find. I’m hoping he’s come out of the Tour in good shape, this is a big chance for him to take his second win of the year. Intermarché have a good team to support him, Mike should be team leader, I expect a big race from him.
Alexander Kristoff – it’s unlikely to end in a sprint, and if he makes the front group, the final ascent of the Smeysberg will likely kill off his hopes.
Rasmus Tiller – I think he’s the best option for Uno-X. He performed well in Glasgow, so he left the Tour in a decent shape. Tiller is good on punchy climbs; he’ll see this as a big chance to take his second win of the year.
Jordy Bouts – this is the first time a rider from TDT-Unibet has made my contenders list, what an incredible moment for the team! Bouts was brilliant in the Tour of Leuven; it was great to see him going for it in the closing kilometres. Hopefully he can do something similar in this race.
A solo win for Victor Campenaerts.