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Why we should all be excited for the BinckBank Tour

Joe Robinson
4 Aug 2017

Formerly the Eneco Tour, the BinckBank Tour looks set to be the most exciting race throughout August

Every August, the road cycling world finds itself consumed by the Vuelta a Espana

The three week stage race in and around Spain demands the attention of fans and journalists alike who vigilantly watch the world's best climbers and general classification men battle it out for the red jersey. 

However, this is not the only race you should be jotting down in your diary. Next week sees the start of, quite possibly, the best one week stage race on the calendar, the BinckBank Tour. 

BinckBank who? you may ask. Named the Eneco Tour in its former guise, the BinckBank Tour has everything you could possibly want from a stage race excluding high mountains. 

With a stellar line-up, crosswinds, cobbles and hills, this one week of racing around Belgium and the Netherlands promises to potentially eclipse the excitement in Spain and have viewers glued to their screens. 

A who's who of riders

Take a glance at the BinckBank Tour line-up and you will see that it reads as a who's who of one day Spring Classics stars. 

Already confirmed to be racing are this year's Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders winners, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Phillipe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors). They will be joined by World Champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R LA Mondiale) to head-up a talented start line.

When looking at who is riding, you could easily mistake this for a big Spring Classic, such is the calibre of racers.

The BinckBank Tour will also host sprinter Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors) in which will be his first big test in Flemish conditions against the world's best classics men. With aspirations to become Columbia's first Paris-Roubaix winner, Gaviria's performances will be of certain interest. 

This is one of the rare chances that these one-day men get to compete for a stage race, so it can be expected that their A game will be brought. The usual tactics of aggressive and attacking riding will be an ever-present over all seven stages.

Another rider that makes this race even more tasty is Wout Van Aert (Verandas Willems-Crelan). Ask any Cyclocross fan about Van Aert, and they will tell you how talented this young star is. Only 22-years old, the Belgian is already a two-time Cyclocross World Champion and has dominated Cross for the past two seasons. 

It will not be long until he makes his promised switch over to road racing full time, in which a cue of teams will form for his signature. Van Aert has shown the potential to dominate the cobbled classics and act as the biggest threat to Peter Sagan's superstar crown. 

Whilst this race will only give us a taste of his exploits, expect Van Aert to be amongst the best at the pointy end of stages and challenging for stage and potentially overall victory. 

Bringing Spring to Summer 

Many a tear is shed with the end of Liege-Bastogne-Liege each year. With the end of this race comes the end of the Spring Classics. 

Often the most exciting part of the season, the. mixture of hills, cobbles, wind and rain produces epic racing that lives long in the memory. However, the BinckBank Tour is bringing the Spring to Summer. 

This year's parcour presents a different challenge each day and replicates some of the beloved one-day races of earlier in the season. 

Stage 5, starting and finishing in Sittard Geleen, takes on many of the hills familiar to the Amstel Gold Race, with ascents of the Cauberg and Kruisberg. Stage 6 from Riemst to Houffalize takes the peloton through the Ardenne hills, emulating Liege-Bastogne-Liege. 

The real gem in the crown will be the final stage, Stage 7 from Essen to Geraardsbergen. Visiting one of cycling's holy places, the race will include the infamous Muur van Geraardsbergen, one of the toughest cobbled climbs in Flanders. At 1km long with a maximum gradient of 19.8%, any race that includes this climb often produces fireworks as well as some picturesque pain faces.

These peaks will not be the only troubles faced by the risers, with the pan-flat stage from Blankenberge to Ardooie potentially causing just as many problems. Taking the riders across the exposed farmlands of North-West Belgium, the chances of crosswinds are high. 

Crosswinds make any race cool, and with the potential to crush overall hopes in a matter of seconds, our fingers remain firmly crossed that the winds will be blowing. 

Last year's race was unmissable

Moved later in the calendar to the end of September, last year's BinckBank Tour, know then as the Eneco Tour, was one of the best races all season. 

The change in calendar positioning last year attracted a strong field and produced some of the most exciting racing of the year. The eventual winner Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) managed to clinch the title in an emphatic way, distancing his rivals, winning the race on its final ascent of the Muur van Geraardsbergen. 

This had come after a week of full gas racing that saw four different race leaders across the seven stages. Stage success was tasted by sprinters, time trial and breakaway specialists alike. 

The 2016 edition pitted one day men like Terpstra and Sagan against true stage racers in the shape of Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) leading to an intriguing race between riders that do not usually compete head to head. 

More of the same can be expected this year with Dumoulin confirmed to be riding next week. 

Unmissable viewing 

If you can only get away with slyly watching one race at work this month, choose the BinckBank Tour.

The Vuelta will be exciting and no doubt entertain us for three weeks, but with long stages and plenty of coverage, all the key moments can be caught up with post-stage.  Dedicate some time to the BinckBank Tour, as whilst is simmers underneath the commotion of the Vuelta, it is sure to deliever some outstanding racing. 

This will be your only chance to get your Spring Classics fix before next season, so be sure not to miss out. With cobbles, hills and crosswinds, the whole week of racing could be non-stop action and provide a stopgap in your Spring Classics blues. 

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