Lotto Belisol and Omega Pharma – Quick-Step battle at Ster ZLM Toer GP Jan van Heeswijk
The world's best sprint trains will go head-to-head this week when Lotto Belisol and Omega Pharma – Quick-Step hone their Tour de France form at the Ster ZLM Toer GP Jan van Heeswijk.
The opening stage is an 8km individual time trial however at least three opportunities await the fast men of the bunch and Lotto Belisol believe their man, André Greipel is hitting good form just at the right time with the Tour de France just over a fortnight away.
"We go to the Ster ZLM Toer with our complete sprint train," explained sport director Bart Leysen. "The goal is to win a stage with André Greipel. That will be good for the confidence in the run-up to the Tour. The automatisms can be tested here. It's important to execute all steps in a race. Cavendish and Kittel will be there as well, so if Greipel wins that will be good for his morale."
Cavendish returns with the train of Michal Golas, Jerome Pineau, Matteo Trentin and Gert Steegmans that proved so effective over the Giro d'Italia, the Manxman going home with the points jersey and five stage wins.
Apart from the well-drilled trains of Lotto Belisol and Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, the start list also features Marcel Kittel (Argos – Shimano) who along with Greipel has 10 wins for the season, just two behind Cavendish. Blanco should also be in the hunt with Theo Bos while Jonathan Cantwell (Saxo – Tinkoff) can also threaten.
"There is only one real tough stage; that is on Saturday," continued Leyson. "Jürgen Roelandts might take his chance there. But at the moment Greipel is that good, that he can play a role as well. Friday there are several hills in the beginning and middle of the stage, but the end is easy. It isn't sure if it will end with a group sprint."
Earlier this week, Lotto Belisol announced the re-signing of Greipel and key lead out man Marcel Sieberg for a further two seasons.
Lars Bak, Gert Dockx, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Frederik Willems