Following overall victory at the Tour of Poland, and solid team performances last week in Burgos and Hamburg, Team Bahrain Victorious head to Belgium and The Netherlands this week for the 18th Renewi Tour (formerly the Benelux, BinckBank & Eneco Tours).
The race takes place over five days, and as usual, favours fast men & classics specialists. This year there are two hilly stages, one with plenty of cobbles, and an individual time trial.
With the 2022 edition having been cancelled, the reigning champion (from 2021) is TBV’s own Sonny Colbrelli, who returns, this time in an ambassadorial role.
Our line-up is very strong, led by the 2018 winner Matej Mohorič (and 2nd in 2021), who will be looking to continue the rich vein of form which has seen him take stage victories at the Tour of Slovenia & the Tour de France before GC triumph in Poland earlier this month. He is joined by the recently-crowned British champion, Fred Wright, who will provide crucial support to the Slovenian, as well as having the chance to play his own cards if the opportunity arises. Also riding in a supporting capacity is 22 year old Nicolò Buratti.
Lead Sports Director Roman Kreuziger believes it will be hard-fought from the start:
“We can expect a very nervous 1st stage as there are narrow roads and the wind could play a part, but it should all come together for a sprint.
There will be aggressive racing on stage 3 with a cobbled circuit which the boys know very well from the early classics. Along with the second day’s time trial it’s probably the most important for the GC.
The final stage doesn’t look too hard on paper but it will become very tough after 4 days nervous racing.”
Wednesday’s opening parcours is 183km from Blankenberge to Ardooie, and is expected to finish with a bunch sprint, as is stage 4 between Beringen & Peer. The startlist includes some of the world’s top sprinters, but having won a stage & the ‘Maglia Ciclamino’ at this year’s Giro d’Italia, Jonathan Milan should be able to hold his own against them.
Leading out for the Italian will be road captain Andrea Pasqualon, Serbian champion Dušan Rajović, and Wright.
“On those days we want to focus on Jonathan for a sprint but still maintain pay attention to the GC. Looking at the startlist we are not the team that needs to control, even for Johnny, as there are other good sprinters, but we do aim to win.
Stage 2 is the ITT where we have hopes to build a good GC position with Fred and Matej, but want to also push Jonathan and Johan Price-Pejtersen, as they could do well. Overall the week doesn’t suit Johan at all but he already showed this year he is on track and improving, so it’s an opportunity to do a great ITT and improve his skills.
As for Nicolò, for him it’s important to get familiar with the Belgian roads so he’s ready for next spring.”
The time trial on Thursday is a completely flat 13.6km, and the Tour ends on Sunday with a lumpy 187.3km from Riemst to Bilzen. The finishing circuit will be taken on four times, and includes the Kleiberg, which has a maximum gradient of 12%
“For me it’s the first time doing Benelux but with Michal Golas and Sonny we have plenty of knowledge to guide the boys well during the week.
The team has almost always done well here, so our objective is to be on the podium with Matej or Fred and to win a stage.”
The Renewi Tour gets underway in Blankenberge on Wednesday 23rd August, and finishes on Sunday 27th in Bilzen.