Race announces course and nine WorldTour teams
The Baloise Belgium Tour hopes that Paris-Roubaix winner Fabian Cancellara will headline the five stage race next month. RadioShack-Leopard is one of nine WorldTour teams which will take on the race from May 22-26.
The Belgian race runs concurrently against the Giro d'Italia and the Bayern Rundfahrt. Organizers hope that not only Cancellara but also Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) will choose their race over the Giro.
In addition to RadioShack-Leopard and Omega Pharma-QuickStep, the WorldTour will be represented by Lotto-Belisol, Blanco, Katusha, BMC, Vacansoleil-DCM, Argos Shimano and Astana. Six Professional Continental and five Continental teams will also be named to participate.
"We are hard at work lobbying team RadioShack-Leopard for the possibility that Fabian Cancellara comes to the big race," said organiser Rob Discart at a press conference, according to Het Laatste Nieuws. "Of course he is not only a great candidate for our list of participants. We would also like, from the same team, to have Stijn Devolder at the start.” Devolder won the race in 2008 and 2010.
The race runs 730.1 kilometers over five stages from Wednesday, May 22 to Sunday, May 26. It starts with 194.2 kilometers from Lochristi-Knokke Heist, with the finish atop the 'De Wandelaar' climb.
Stage two has more climbs, running 181 kilometers from Knokke Heist to Ninove Meerbeke, and featuring a “spicy finale” with Parikeberg, Bosberg and Congoberg. The third stage gives the time trialists a chance, with 15 kilometers around Beveren-Waas.
The first three stages are in Flanders, and the final two in Walloon. Stage four takes the peloton 164.3 kilometers with start and finish in Lacs de l'Eau d'Heure. The race ends Sunday with the queen stage, starting and ending in Banneux (175.6 kilometers), in what organizers call a a mini-Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
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