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Tour de Wallonie

Girmay : « Looking forward to pin a number again on the home soil of our partners »

From Saturday to Wednesday, the World Team will cross its region on the occasion of the Tour de Wallonie with in its roster the winner of edition 2019, Loïc Vliegen, and Biniam Girmay, who returns to Europe for the first time since his historical performance at the Giro.

During the five stages of this 43rd edition, each of the five Walloon provinces will be crossed with hilly parcours and each day a local lap to conclude the stage. The racing is expected to be hard from the opening weekend, with the Mur de Huy as main attraction of the first stage and this for the first time in the history of the TRW.

One day after the finish on this steep climb, seven categorized hills have to be covered between Verviers and Herve, where Loïc Vliegen grew up, among which the mythical climb Côte de La Redoute with 56 kilometer to go.

On Monday towards Rochefort and on Tuesday towards Couvin, respectively four and five categorized climbs are waiting for the riders. On the last day, the hills are replaced by 25 kilometer of cobbles divided in eight sections through the Hainaut province, where the Walloon team is based.

Next to Vliegen, who took his first professional victory in Beyne-Heusay before concluding the stage race as the overall winner 2019, the Walloon World Team has another stage winner in its roster. Dimitri Claeys won in Vielsalm in 2016 by defeating among others Gianni Meersman and Arnaud Démare in the sprint.

The recently crowned Eritrean time trial champion Biniam Girmay will discover the roads of the Tour de Wallonie for the first time, just like Lorenzo Rota, who finished fourth in the Tour of Belgium and second in the Italian championships in June.

Anonther regional rider, Kévin Van Melsen, will participate for the eleventh time. He won the KOM classification in 2014. His compatriots Jan Bakelants (6th in 2010) and Aimé De Gendt complete the selection directed by Valerio Piva and Jean-Marc Rossignon.

« I'm reunited with the team for the first time since my stage victory in the Giro and I'm expecting my third block of competition to start at high intensity. I remember the steep slopes of the Mur de Huy from my participation of the Flèche Wallonne last year. I did the recon of the final of this first stage with Vliegen and our sports director Valerio Piva to refresh my knowledge of the roads. We also trained on the roads of the final 100 kilometer of the second stage. It was special to climb the Col de La Redoute, with all those names of champions paint on the road. I tried to imagine the duel between Michèle Bartoli et Franck Vandenbroucke in the edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège 1999. When I'm in Europe, I regularly watch archives of important classics. It is interesting to discover the roads and also to learn more about cycling history. » « I'm looking forward to return into competition. We'll see how I feel on those mythical climbs. I think that there will be some sprint opportunities, because I know that several strong sprinters will be at the start. There's also a cobble stage. Our sports directors informed us with video images of the recon. The sections are long, but the difficulty is not so high compared to that cobble climb (Paterberg) in the final of the E3 Classic where I tried to follow Van Aert and Laporte. We're here with a strong team, I can't wait to pin a number again on the home soil of our partners! »

« The Tour de Wallonie is always an important goal on my calendar. This year is even more special because of the finish in Herve at the end of the second stage, only a couple of hectometers away from the house of my parents. I received several times the opportunity to race there and even to win, in the Flèche Ardennaise. That was an unforgettable moment. Knowing the roads is always an advantage. I remember my first pro win in the Tour de Wallonie three years ago very well. I knew the downhill in the streets of Beyne-Heusay by heart and I could start start the Mur de Fayembois with a small gap and keep it to the top. This victory enables me to win the general classification. » « In this edition, we'll already know a lot about the GC contenders after the first stage on the Mur de Huy. The next day, big gaps can be made if some teams wish to make the race hard. I think that this opening weekend will decide about the general classification, so after this we can plan for the remaining three days. Taking into account the bonification seconds during the stages and at the finish, it is a must to finish in the top three of the stages if you want to be on the final podium. » « Just like before my other participations to the Tour de Wallonie, I went to Livigno to prepare. Not less than twelve riders of the team chose to go together at an altitude camp, accompanied by our trainers and staff. We could choose to train in group or alone or to spend time with our families, but most of the time we finished all training sessions together. We had a good time and I'm looking forward to return to competition after this qualitative training period in good weather. »

« During the past two months, Biniam Girmay trained at home in Asmara to prepare his last competition block until the end of the season, with major goals in September and October. He lives at an altitude of 2400 meter, which is a big advantage for him  when he's racing in Europe. He can climb up to 3500 meter of altitude or go down to sea level to train behind the scooter. This requires a careful follow-up, because the more you gain altitude, the more it is difficult to continue pedaling at a high power and also the recovery takes more time. We pay a lot of attention to the adaptation of his targeted power zones to his training conditions. It takes experience to handle this and a close collaboration between the rider and the trainer is very important. Biniam and I communicate well about the training instructions and the feedback, we regularly call each other. After each training block of two to three days, he goes to an internet café to send us his training files. In addition to our usual way of working with TrainingPeaks, I send him Excel files and screenshots of his daily missions to be sure that he has access to all necessary information. It is a privilege for all coaches to work with a talent such as Biniam! »

Stage 1 (23/07): Temploux – Huy (174,4 km)
Stage 2 (24/07): Verviers – Herve (176,8 km)
Stage 3 (25/07): Visé – Rochefort (195,6 km)
Stage 4 (26/07): Durbuy – Couvin (200,8 km)
Stage 5 (27/07): Le Roeulx – Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont (214,7 km) 


General Classification


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