David Millar (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Roger Hammond and Mark Cavendish (both T-Mobile) will all be taking part in the eight day Eneco Tour, which kicks off on Wednesday.
Starting with a 5.4 kilometre prologue in Hasselt, Belgium and finishing with a time trial in Holland from Sittard to Geleen but with few decisive stages inbetween, it could be difficult for any one team to dominate proceedings in the ProTour event.
Already a seven-times winner this season, Cavendish, part of an eight-man T-Mobile squad, will have several opportunities to increase his 2007 tally of victories. Whilst stage one from Waremme to Eupen on Thursday is a mini-version of an Ardennes Classic, stage two from Antwerp to Knokke-Heist is all but flat and will probably be the Manxman?s first chance of victory.
With Tom Boonen (Quick Step) absent, Cavendish?s toughest rival could well prove to be Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto). Other fastmen on the provisional Eneco roster include Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas), Phillipe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux), Flanders and Hamburg winner Alessandro Ballan, Rabobank?s Graeme Brown, Jimmy Casper (Unibet.com) and Credit Agricole?s Thor Hushovd.
?Mark?s already shown McEwen is beatable this season.? T-Mobile?s directeur sportif Rolf Aldag told CW. ?So we?re definitely in the market for stage wins.?
?He?s got his confidence back at 100 percent after winning a stage in the Tour of Denmark, plus he knows he can count on great support from the team.?
?Roger and Servais Knaven both have a great deal of ?local knowledge? about the course, which will be a huge help, and then with Kim [Kirchen], who already won the race back in 2002 when it was the Tour of Benelux, we?ve got a contender for the overall.?
?Stage one has a finish a bit like Amstel Gold, but after that, Mark will have his chance.?
|Stage||Date||From – To||Length|
|Prologue||Wednesday Aug 22||Hasselt ? Hasselt||5.1km|
|Stage 1||Thursday Aug 23||Waremme ? Eupen||189.5km|
|Stage 2||Friday Aug 24||Anvers ? Knokke-Heist||199.1km|
|Stage 3||Saturday Aug 25||Knokke-Heist ? Putte||170.8km|
|Stage 4||Sunday Aug 26||Maldegem ? Terneuzen||182.7km|
|Stage 5||Monday Aug 27||Terneuzen ? Nieuwegein||179.9km|
|Stage 6||Tuesday Aug 28||Beek ? Landgraaf||177.4km|
|Stage 7||Wednesday Aug 29||Sittard ? Geleen ITT||29.6km|
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Overall length – 1134.1km
2006 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner
2005 Bobby Jullich (USA) CSC
Visit the event website at www.enecotour.com