The final WorldTour stage race of 2016 is here. The Eneco Tour is a one-weeker for the one-day specialists, with cobbles, crosswinds, and punchy climbs aplenty. With a very strong startlist lining up in the Low Countries this week, this year’s edition of the race should provide plenty of entertainment.
The Eneco Tour doesn’t have any high mountains, but it makes up for the lack of serious climbs with a diverse array of stage types. Things kick off with a flat stage before the Eneco Tour peloton dives into an individual time trial of just under 10km. Then it’s two more flat stages before the stage 5, which has the potential to have a huge impact on the race at over 20km.
The final two stages will likely be the deciders. Stage 6 takes the riders through Belgian Limburg and the Ardennes on very hilly roads, while Stage 7 closes out the race with a classic day on classic Classics roads. The finale finishes halfway up the inconic Mur.
The General Classification Contenders
This is a pretty wide-open event with several teams bringing two or even three more than viable candidates. 2015 winner Tim Wellens seems like a fine place to start, though defending his jersey will be a real challenge. He’s got the tactical know-how and the climbing chops to be competitive, but the time trials will be tough.
The TTs should be a major boon, however, for BMC. Greg Van Avermaet has come close to winning the overall in the past and given his form right now and the likelihood of a great TTT from BMC, he’s got a nice chance this year. Rohan Dennis and Taylor Phinney are quality alternatives for the red and black squad.
EQS also has plenty of options. Tony Martin, Zdenek Stybar, Bob Jungels, and Niki Terpstra are all candidates for the overall who can rely on a strong TTT setup and either proven classics talent or big engines that translate well to this kind of racing.
It’s hard to judge Peter Sagan‘s chances, given his questionable motivation at a race like this, but he’s riding and he’s got the talent for a GC bid. Tom Dumoulin, Geraint Thomas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Wilco Kelderman, Fabio Felline, Tony Gallopin, Michael Matthews, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Ion Izagirre are others to watch out for in the GC battle.
The list of sprinters in attendance this week in the Low Countries may be the most imprrssive for any stage race all year. Mark Cavendish, André Greipel, and Marcel Kittel headline the field, with Giacomo Nizzolo, Arnaud Démare, Elia Viviani, Caleb Ewan, Nacer Bouhanni, and Alexander Kristoff all likely in the mix on the flatter days too.
VeloHuman Top 10 Overall Race Favorites
Winner: Greg Van Avermaet
Podium: Tom Dumoulin, Zdenek Stybar
Other Top Contenders: Rohan Dennis, Tim Wellens, Tony Martin, Bob Jungels, Michal Kwiatkowski, Geraint Thomas, Niki Terpstra