Three mini Classics in three days

Let’s face it, the opening four days of the BinckBank Tour have hardly made for exciting viewing, with three sprint stages and a time trial, mostly contested in heavy rain.

But wait, if you’ve made it this far, then you should really stick around for the final three stages: effectively three mini Classics, packing 35 climbs into what should be a great three days of racing.

Taking place in Limburg in the south of the Netherlands, Friday’s stage five takes in many of the roads of the Amstel Gold Race, including an ascent of the Cauberg before heading back towards the start/finish in Sittard-Geleen for two laps of a lumpy finishing circuit.

In the spring riders would have a week between Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but in the BinckBank Tour a long day in the Belgian Ardennes is on the cards straight away.

>>> The climbs of Liège-Bastogne-Liège

The longest climb of the day is the 7.4km Côte Baraque Michel-Est, but this comes with more than 100km remaining to the finish in Houffalize, so the final two climbs should be more important, especially the penultimate Côte Saint-Roch with its average gradient of 11 per cent.

The final stage will be decided on a parcours that could be called a mini Tour of Flanders with its finishing circuit around the town of Geraardsbergen, including the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen.

The Muur is climbed twice in the testing final 40km which also includes two ascents of the Bosberg, culminating in an uphill finish in the centre of town.