Zdenek Stybar, Omega Pharma-Quick Step *****
The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team are in their element on Belgian and Dutch roads, and such is their strength in depth that the question of who will win the Eneco Tour could boil down to which rider they chose to work for. Tom Boonen will undoubtedly relish stage five, while Niki Terpstra was third overall in 2012, but the defending champion Stybar looks best equipped to handle the hills of the final two days.
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Greg Van Avermart, BMC ****
Considering his talent, Van Avermart has not registered as many wins as he perhaps ought to have, and his second place at the Tour of Flanders only reinforced his nearly-man status. But a race as diverse as this year’s Eneco Tour will suit his all-round ability, while the stage race format is more likely to reward his habit of consistency than the single-day classics. He will, however, have to compete with Philippe Gilbert for team leadership.
Edvald Boasson Hagen, Sky ***
As a two-time winner of this race (in 2009 and 2011) Boasson Hagen is something of a specialist at this event, and shouldn’t be written off. However, he’s enduring one of his leanest seasons to date, and is still without a win since the Norwegian National Time Trial Championships last year, some thirteen and a half months ago. Should his form fail to pick up, Sky have Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins to fall back on.
Tom Dumoulin, Giant-Shimano ***
23 year old Dumoulin has quickly emerged as one of the brightest young talents in the peloton, and proof that there’s more to Giant-Shimano than large German sprinters. Having finished second overall last year he must be considered a favourite, and will be hard to depose if he can claim the lead in the stage three time trial.
Lars Boom, Belkin **
Boom is always a lively presence at the Eneco Tour, and won the overall in 2012, so can be again expected to animate the race. The final two stages do not suit his rouleur characteristics however, and his team may opt to ride for Bauke Mollema instead.
Fabian Cancellara, Trek **
Although Cancellara is the best rider at the Eneco Tour on paper, these days he rarely seems motivated for races beyond his major targets for the season. A stage win in the time trial therefore seems more likely than a bid for the overall classification.
Others to Watch:
Andre Greipel, Lotto-Belisol
Nacer Bouhanni, FDJ
Alex Dowsett, Movistar