Tour de Luxembourg preview

It’s the 72nd edition of the Tour de Luxembourg, a five-day stage race around one of the smallest countries in the world and homeland of the Schleck brothers. While it doesn’t have all the high-calibre cyclists stampeding to the start line, it is a race often used by riders to train for the Tour de France, especially when combined with the Tour de Suisse.

What kind of race is it?

A five-stage race (or to be more accurate, a prologue with four stages), covering 726.5km. The Tour is classified as a 2HC race, just below a ProTour race. It offers a solid but not overly strenuous work-out, with its testing but not extremely high climbs (the country’s highest point sits at just 560 metres), which suits both GC riders and those who specialise in the hillier Classics.

The winners in the past five years:

2007: Gregory Rast (Astana)

2008: Joost Posthuma (Rabobank)

2009: Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank)

2010: Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil)

2011: Linus Gerdemann (Leopard Trek)

What happened last year?

Linus Gerdemann is the defending champion (image courtesy of RadioShack-Nissan)

Fabian Cancellara did his new Luxembourg team, Leopard Trek, proud by storming through the Luxembourg streets in the technical 2.6km prologue. taking the race’s first yellow jersey. He dedicated his win to Wouter Weylandt, his teammate who died on stage three of last year’s Giro. Leopard Trek would keep the yellow jersey for the entire Tour, with Cancellara passing the jersey on to teammate Linus Gerdemann, who took a solo win on stage two. Gerdemann kept the jersey for the last two stages, which were won, respectively, by Sky’s Davide Appollonio and Vacansoleil’s Romain Feillu.

1. Linus Gerdemann (Leopard Trek) 18.35.32

2. Alexandre Geniez (Skil-Shimano) +0.02

3. Tony Gallopin (Cofidis) +0.03

4. Maxime Monfort (Leopard Trek) +0.05

5. Mickael Delage (FDJ) +0.08

6. Jeremie Galland (Saur-Sojasun) +0.10

7. Jurgen van Goolen (Veranda’s Willems-Accent) +0.11

8. Julien El Fares (Cofidis) +0.11

9. Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM) +0.12

10. Alan Marangoni (Liquigas-Cannondale) +0.13

This year’s race

The race’s combination of a tricky 2.7km prologue and four stages of small, yet sometimes biting climbs (stage 3 has short, sharp circuits of climbs of 7% at the end) means that, like last year, we could see five different stage winners.

Who to watch

More wins for Greipel? (image courtesy of Lotto-Belisol)

Lotto-Belisol’s Andre Greipel is coming off a hot streak at the Tour of Belgium, where he won the first three stages. He’ll be looking to continue his winning ways this week.

Linus Gerdemann is hoping to defend his title and hopefully chalk up a much-needed win for RadioShack, with the help of Andreas Kloden and Jens Voigt. We’ll also be able to see how Frank Schleck is going, after he left the Giro with a shoulder injury. With Schleck the Younger riding the Dauphine, it’ll be interesting to see the team dynamics for both races.

Other riders to watch include Michael Barry and Ben Swift from Sky Europcar are fielding Vincent Jerome and Paris-Roubaix runner-up Sebastien Turgot, while Vacansoleil’s Romain Feillu and the ever popular Johnny Hoogerland will be looking for wins via sprints and opportunistic attacks respectively.

Race details

May 30th: Prologue – Luxembourg, 2.7km

May 31st: Stage 1 – Luxembourg to Hesperange, 181km

June 1st: Stage 2 – Schifflange to Leudelange, 184km

June 2nd: Stage 3 – Eschweiler to Differdange, 205km

June 3rd: Stage 4 – Mersch to Luxembourg, 153km

The Tour de Luxembourg starts on Wednesday 30 May and concludes on Sunday 3rd June. For live coverage check cyclingfans.com.

Link: Official website

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