A September edition of the Eneco Tour has been confirmed by race organisers who have revealed the 2016 route of the Dutch and Belgian WorldTour stage race. Traditionally held in August, the first stage of the Eneco Tour will be held on September 19 this year to accommodate the Rio Olympic Games which are being held in early-August. The Tour of Poland has also adjusted its dates in 2016 due to the Olympic schedule.
The Eneco Tour will kick off with Stage 1 starting and finishing in the Friesland town of Bolsward in the Netherlands with a time trial held the following day in Breda. Two stages for the sprinters follow in Belgium before a team time trial in Sittard-Geleen in anticipation of the Qatar Worlds in October. The race then concludes with stage 6 taking the peloton from Riemst to Lanaken, through Limburg, before Sunday's conclusion in Geraardsbergen.
"With the one-time extension of the date, we have seized the opportunity afforded by the Olympic Games to [move the race to] the end of September, and make a course tailored for the riders who go to the Worlds in Qatar as everyone knows the parcours is as a flat a billiards table," said race director Rob Discart.
Discart further explained that in concocting the route for 2016, he and team were intent in offering something to sprinters and time trialists alike who will head to Qatar with the ambition of claiming a rainbow jersey. The Eneco Tour is the final stage race on the WorldTour calendar.
"We have therefore chosen to provide some flatter stages so that the sprinters can enjoy themselves," Discart added. "The time trial riders can test their legs during the Eneco Tour with a view to the Worlds, including an individual time trial. The team time trial offers an opportunity for the teams to ride together one last time before the Worlds.
The 2015 Eneco Tour was won by Tim Wellens of Lotto Soudal for the second year running, 59 seconds ahead of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) with Wilco Kelderman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) rounding out the podium. The Belgian set up overall success with victory on stage 6 in Houffalize, taking the leader's jersey off Kelderman.
Further details regarding team selection and stage lengths are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
2016 Eneco Tour
Stage 1 -Bolsward - Bolsward, September 19
Stage 2 - Breda - Breda (ITT), September 20
Stage 3 - Blankenberge - Ardooie, September 21
Stage 4 - Aalter - St-Pieters-Leeuw, September 22
Stage 5 - Sittard-Geleen - Sittard-Geleen (TTT), September 23
Stage 6 - Riemst - Lanaken, September 24
Stage 7 - Bornem - Geraardsbergen,September 25