The Binche-Chimay-Binche one day race, also known as the Mémorial Frank Vandenbroucke, will get underway in the Walloon region of Belgium today. The race serves as a traditional mid-week race where riders will be recovering from weekend races such as Il Lombardia and Circuit Franco Belge/Tour de l'Eurometropole and finding their legs before Paris-Tours on Sunday.
Greg Van Avermaet will headline the BMC squad alongside Tour of Alberta stage winner Silvan Dillier and Swiss national road champion Michael Schär. Van Avermaet will be one of the favourites for the race should he chose to go the distance with the Belgian saying that his form is where he would like it to be as he continues his build toward Paris-Tours, a race we won in 2011.
"I will use Binche as a good training race for my last goal to the season," said Van Avermaet. "We will see how recovered I am from Il Lombardia, because it was pretty hard. But I think I will be fine and ready."
The course has been slightly altered with riders racing 120km from Binche to Chimay and back before tackling five local laps of 16km including a cobbled section and an uphill run to the line. In previous years riders have taken an altered course from Binche to Tournai and back but for Van Avermaet the change is of little concern.
"The final laps are the same, so it is still a hard uphill sprint," he said. "I hope to have a team with great motivation for this Belgian semi-classic.
"It is also a perfect tune-up before Paris-Tours."
Joining Van Avermaet, Diller and Schär will be Yannick Eijssen, Klaas Lodewyck and Jakub Novak.
Belkin hoping to break things up
Belkin come into the Belgian semi-classic hoping to capture the success that eluded them at the Tour de l'Eurometropole. Bringing a strong team including Lars Boom, Maarten Tjallingii and Mark Renshaw the Belkin team appears to prepared for a breakaway or a bunch sprint.
"It's likely there will be a bunch sprint in Binche too but we're going to try to force something and give our all to do so," said Belkin director Erik Dekker. "If it still ends up in a sprint we always have Mark Renshaw to rely on."
Jetse Bol was Belkin's top finisher with tenth at Franco Belge and the 24-year-old is looking to continue his consistent run.
"It wasn't the best result of the year but it was still a nice outcome," Bol said. "I feel good and Binche suits me. The course has become slightly more difficult and I want to finish up at the top."
Joining Bol, Boom, Tjallingii and Renshaw will be Rick Flens, Bram Tankink, Sep Vanmarcke and Maarten Wynants.