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Tour de Wallonie

A solid roster to shine at home

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will be one of the thirteen World Tour teams at the start of the 42nd edition of the Tour de Wallonie (2.Pro), which takes place from July 20 to 24. This year, the event returns with its traditional five stages, after a shortened 2020 edition due to sanitary measures. The riders will start in Genappe (Walloon Brabant), and will cross all the Walloon provinces over the five days, to reach the final stop in Quaregnon (Hainaut).

After an opening stage which will pass through Ciney (Namur) and join Héron (Liège), the second day will be entirely in the province of Liège, with a difficult route through the Ardennes, with six listed climbs including La Redoute. The third stage, which links Plombières (Liège) to Erezée (Luxembourg), is undoubtedly the queen stage of this edition, with the Côte de Beffe (1.6 km at 8.6%) located in the last 10 kilometers. Then, the peloton will join Fleurus (Hainaut) from Neufchâteau (Luxembourg) with a less demanding crossing of 200 kilometers, before concluding with a fifth stage between Dinant (Namur) and Quaregnon.

At home, the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux team has assembled a solid selection of seven riders, with the Belgian Loïc Vliegen, winner of the 2019 edition, who is back in competition after leaving the roads of the Tour de France. He will be accompanied by four other compatriots, including Quinten Hermans, stage winner in Herstal and second overall in 2018, and Aimé De Gendt, 19th in the general classification last year. Also at the start will be Baptiste Planckaert, who impressed on the Tro-Bro Léon (3rd) and Tour du Finistère (5th) earlier this season, and Kévin van Melsen, who will be participating in his tenth time. Alongside them, Norwegian puncher Odd Christian Eiking, stage winner in 2018 at La Roche-en-Ardenne, and Italian sprinter Andrea Pasqualon, who will discover the roads of TRW for the first time in his career.

This Tour de Wallonie will have a special flavor, not only because the third stage starts on my land in Hombourg and we will ride on my training routes, but also because Wallonia has been hard hit by the floods and we will be riding with a thought for the victims of this disaster. Usually we are very motivated to do well here, but this year even more. We will return to Erezée, considered as the queen stage last year, but which was not as hard as expected because the sprinters fought for the leading roles. On the other hand, Wednesday's stage towards Herve will be very demanding, with a little known local circuit, but selective. After a very productive training camp in the Alps, the form is good and I feel ready to help my teammates. Our team is not lacking in quality, and we will be able to shine every day with the ambition to achieve a good GC at Quaregnon.

We come to this Tour de Wallonie with a determined team to defend the jersey, on the offensive throughout the week. With the exception of Loïc Vliegen who treated his knee after the Tour de France, all the riders come back after a period of recovery, where they have refined their condition through training at altitude. We have the data from their workouts, and there is every indication that they are ready to do great things. Quinten Hermans and Odd Eiking will have an interesting playing field to target the GC, as well as Loïc Vliegen who knows this event very well. We can count on Andrea Pasqualon in case of a sprint finish, on Baptiste Planckaert who is ever present, and the solid Aimé De Gendt and Kévin van Melsen who will be able, why not, to join the breakaways. I would say that there is not one defined leader, because we come with a collective capable of doing well, whatever the profile.


General Classification


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