Etixx – Quick-Step to Tour de Wallonie
The 43rd edition of the five-day event will be one for the puncheurs, with more than 30 categorized climbs on the course.
Created in 1974 and ran under various names, such as Tour du Hainaut occidental or Trois jours de Péruwelz, the Belgian race was reserved to amateur riders for two decades, before opening its doors to professionals in 1995. Since then, the now 2.HC Tour de Wallonie has enjoyed on many occasions a star-studded start list, despite being slotted into a packed period of the calendar.
In recent years, the event witnessed a dominance of Etixx – Quick-Step, our team winning the general classification at the past two editions, with Gianni Meersman, respectively Niki Terpstra. Both will be at the start this year, part of a very strong line-up, which also includes Tom Boonen, David De La Cruz, Yves Lampaert, Matteo Trentin, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Stijn Vandenbergh, basically the same riders who raced Grand Prix Cerami on Wednesday.
The Tour de Wallonie will open with a stage for sprinters and will continue with one that will favour the puncheurs, who can use Côte de l'Ascenseur as springboard to victory. Just one day later, the general classification should be again reshuffled, with Côte de Mont-le-Soie – which will come just five kilometers from the finish – expected to play a crucial role in the outcome. The final two stages are set to take the peloton over a total of 19 categorized climbs through the Ardennes, which are sure to make the GC battle a fierce and exciting one.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele