The BinckBank Tour is the only UCI WorldTour stage race taking place in the Netherlands and Belgium (this year also taking a bite of Germany) and its new dates – 29 September to 3rd October – make this appointment an ideal build up to the one-day Classics that will follow shortly afterwards. The double soul of the BinckBank Tour will also be reflected in the start list which contains several big-name Dutch and Belgian riders who have already confirmed their participation.
Dutchnational Champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) will be one of the stars: “I am starting from the ambition to prove myself on several stages, especially when taking into account the status of this competition,” he said. “Winning one of the stages is the goal. This race is going to be very special for me. Not only is it the first time that I appear at the start, but it is also a multi-day WorldTour that runs on both Belgian and Dutch soil, that is something unique. But most of all it is an excellent opportunity to show off my Dutch Champion's jersey once again.”
A competitive field set to battle every day
“In the new autumn calendar, every single race faces considerably more competition than in any other normal year,” said race director Rob Discart. “The BinckBank Tour may coincide with the Flèche Wallonne, but the nature of our race lends itself more to those riders specialised in the Classics along flatter terrain, the Flandriens. They can get down to work in our race, shortly before the one-day races later in October.”
Formerly known as the Eneco Tour, the BinckBank Tour is an important event for Dutch and Belgian UCI WorldTeams which will honour the race with a competitive selection of riders including several former national champions. Lotto-Soudal’s leaders will be 2012 UCI World Champion and 2011 and 2016 Belgian National road champion Philippe Gilbert, who broke his kneecap during Stage 1 of Tour de France, and the German John Degenkolb, who also had an unlucky Grande Boucle; they will be also joined by the young Belgian Gerben Thijssen, who competes in both road and track.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step will be led by Belgium’s 2018 road race National Champion Yves Lampaert (team time trial winner in the UCI Road World Championship in 2016 and 2018) and 2013 BinckBank Tour winner Zdeněk Štybar from the Czech Republic. Team Jumbo-Visma will put their faith in Mike Teunissen from the Netherlands. The peloton will also have to keep an eye on one of the the Dane Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) one of the big surprises of the recent Tour de France with two stage wins, as well as as two strong Belgians: Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), last year’s final stage winner and second on the GC, and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Pro Cycling).
Five days between the Netherlands and Belgium (and Germany)
Originally scheduled from 31 August to 6 September and then moved back by one month, the 2020 BinckBank Tour was also shortened from seven to five days. The planned start in Friesland's Dokkum, in the north of the Netherlands, has been postponed to 2021: “It is a shame that we need to move the start in Dokkum by one year; both we and the municipality Noardeast-Fryslân and the Province Fryslân were very much looking forward to it. However, we were very quick to agree that it is much better for everybody – and especially for the fans of cycling in the North of the Netherlands – to do it right in one go in 2021,” reflected the race director.
The 2020 race will start with a totally flat 152.74km stage from the Flemish coastal town of Blankenberge heading south to Ardooie, which will be followed by a fast 10.96km individual time trial around the Dutch coastal city of Vlissingen in Zeeland. The 173.40km Stage 3 from the city of Philippine to Aalter in East-Flanders, will be the first time a cycling race passes through the Sluiskil Tunnel.
The last two stages will decide the general classification. The 4th stage will start in the Belgian town of Riemst, climb the legendary Amstel Gold Race’s ascent of the Cauberg in Valkenburg and finish at the Tom Dumoulin Bike Park in the Dutch town of Sittard-Geleen. For a brief segment, the route will enter Germany, in the Meuse-Rhin region.
The final 187.64km stage will depart from the Belgian town of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve and then finish with four tough laps around Geraardsbergen climbing three ascents of the Denderoordstraat, Bosberg and the legendary Muur van Geraardsbergen, a symbol of the Tour des Flandres.
Oliver Naesen won in Geraardsbergen last year, ahead of compatriots Greg Van Avermaet and Laurens De Plus, who claimed the overall classification. Who will be next?