For Tour of Britain winner Julian Alaphilippe, it will be the last race before flying to Innsbruck for the World Championships.
The 62nd edition of the Tour de Slovaquie, taking place between 12-16 September, comes with an appetizing parcours which will give opportunities to shine to climbers, attackers and sprinters alike in what will be one of the last stage races of a season that is rapidly nearing a conclusion.
A short 1.8km prologue in Poprad, a small city that lies at the foot of the High Tatra Mountains, will establish an initial pecking order before the summit finish to Strbske Pleso (7.3km, 4.9%), which comes at the end of a hard day featuring no less than seven classified climbs. Whoever wins this stage that is expected to take the sting out of the riders’ legs will be in pole-position to take home also the yellow jersey.
Later in the week, on the hilly roads to Dudnica Nad Vahom and Nitra, the baroudeurs should have their chances to steal the show, while the last stage will be reserved for the sprinters, who’ll fight for victory some 50 kilometers east from Bratislava, in Galanta, where the overall victor of the Tour de Slovaquie will be crowned.
Victorious at his debut in the Tour of Britain, Julian Alaphilippe will return to mainland Europe – together with Bob Jungels and Iljo Keisse, who played an important role in his triumph last week – for his final outing before the World Championships in Innsbruck, carrying a strong form which brought him the second GC win of his career. Joining them will be 22-year-old Fabio Jakobsen, one of the most successful neo-pros of the season, Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert, Zdenek Stybar, who was in the thick of the action at last week’s Canadian World Tour races, and Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Niki Terpstra.
“We are excited to be at the start of the Tour of Slovakia for the first time and we are coming here with a roster capable of being in the fight for both stage victories and a good result in the general classification. After the first two days, the overall should be more or less decided, so we’ll try to be up there right from the start with Julian and Bob, while for the bunch sprints we’ll back Fabio. There aren’t easy stages in Slovakia and the wind could also play a role on the open roads, but we don’t want to let this prevent us from enhancing our already astonishing 2018 palmares”, said sports director Tom Steels, who’ll lead the team together with Davide Bramati.
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