The BinckBank Tour is the biggest cycling race in the Netherlands. In terms of popularity, however, it’s a bit of a neglected child. Maybe it has something to do with the timing: in the middle of the summer holidays and exactly between the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. We at The Prologue really find that a shame. This is a race for the big boys and close to home (for us). We don’t typically get that kind of action right in our backyard very often, so it’s time to give the BinckBank Tour the attention it deserves.

Tour de BeNe…Lux?

This race has been around since 1948. Although some things have changed since then, this multi-day road race started as the Tour of the Netherlands, and originally remained within the national boundaries of the country for which the race is named. Then in 2004 the major Dutch energy supplier, Eneco, became the race’s main sponsor and remained it the ENECO Tour. In 2004 the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) came up with the idea of setting up the UCI ProTour (the Champions League of cycling) and the ENECO Tour risked being excluded because the race was only held in the Netherlands. Since then, stages of the race have been run on both Dutch and Belgian land. Although the BinckBank Tour is internationally known as the Tour of The Benelux, it has never been raced in Luxembourg.

Nowadays, the UCI ProTour no longer exists, and the BinckBank Tour is a UCI World Tour race.

Race course

The race consists of seven stages and the starting gun will go off in Heerenveen. Where the battle for the green leader’s jersey was fought in past editions on the cobbles of steep Belgian climbs, the organisers hope for a classic winner with the 2018 edition: the course this year consists of four flat stages, one (short) time trial and two hill stages, giving hope for a winner like Dylan Groenewegen or Marcel Kittel.

Photo: Cor Vos

Dutch success

Although the BinckBank Tour is a descendant of the Tour of the Netherlands, the race has really only existed since 2005 (when it became part of the UCI ProTour).

But if we look back at the results from then on, the Netherlands is certainly not doing that bad. Three of the race’s victors hail from Holland: Lars Boom, Niki Terpstra and (last year) Tom Dumoulin. Other big names with the trophy in their cabinet are Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tony Martin and Tim Wellens.

Photo: Cor Vos

Only time will tell whether a Dutchman will stand upon the podium’s top step on Sunday. One thing is certain: Tom Dumoulin won’t be defending his title this year. The so-called Butterfly of Maastricht is currently enjoying a well-deserved rest.