Tomorrow the 70th Tour de Pologne will start. This race is part of the WorldTour and finishes on Saturday 3rd of August. There are a few peculiarities to this edition. Each team can only have six riders and the UCI experiments with extra tests along the course to make the race more appealing to the spectators. In intermediate sprints or on hills or mountains one can pick up bonus points. After each stage the collected points of each rider are added and those who are in the top of this "Race Appeal" classification get a time bonus in GC.
The first two stages will be ridden on Italian soil, the organization decided to visit the Dolomites. Only on Tuesday the third stage is programmed, from then on it's racing in Poland. The two Italian stages are tough mountain stages. The first day the finish lies in Madonna di Campiglio, after a climb of first category. Before the riders have to cover the Fai della Paganella (1st cat.) and the Passo del Durone (2nd cat.). A day later three climbs of first category are waiting for the riders in the final 70 kilometers. The Passo Pampeago and Passo Costalunga precede the Passo Pordoi, which is known from the Giro. The fifth stage, on Thursday, has six climbs; three of first and three of second category. The finish is three kilometers behind the final top. The penultimate stage consists of five laps of 38,4 km with each time two mountains of first category. The Tour de Pologne is closed with an individual time trial of 37 km. Jelle Vanendert is one of the six Lotto Belisol riders at the start, it's his first attendance.
Jelle Vanendert: "The Tour de Wallonie has gone well, especially since it was my comeback. It was definitely not great, but that's logical if you have been out of competition for such a long time. I don't have problems with my stomach anymore, I think those are over. In the Tour de Pologne I'll have to see how I have recovered from the Tour de Wallonie, there are only two days in between and one of them is a travel day. The course is tough immediately. I hope to get well through the first two stages and we'll see what comes next. I don't do predictions about the GC, I first want to see how I recover. The course in Poland looks like that in the Ardennes, so I should have opportunities."
"The UCI wants to test in the Tour de Pologne how a stage develops with only six riders in a team. That will make it a very hard race because it's more difficult to control and it will be tougher to defend the leader's jersey. For the viewers it will make the race more animated and for the peloton it will be tougher now and then. About the time bonuses, I don't think it should be too much; whoever crosses the finish line first, should be able to take the most time. There can be bonification seconds along the route, but it should be limited."
Selection Lotto Belisol: Dirk Bellemakers, Francis De Greef, Vicente Reynes, Tosh Van der Sande, Dennis Vanendert and Jelle Vanendert.