The Port of Antwerp and the surrounding polders are the battleground of the Antwerp Port Epic (1.1, 12/09). this Sunday. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert delivered the winner in 2018 and 2019 with respectively Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Aimé De Gendt. Next to De Gendt, the team is bringing a second former winner to the start in the name of Taco van der Hoorn. The Dutch rider won a duel with Wout Van Aert in 2017, when the race was still called Schaal Sels and started and finished in Merksem. De Gendt was the best in the current version with start and finish around the Schengen square in the Port of Antwerp.
Not less than 36 kilometer unpaved roads and 28 kilometer of cobbles are waiting for the riders. The cobbles of the Torenseweg (1km) and the unpaved Opstalpolder (1.8km) are the first difficulties after 55 kilometer and have to be covered six times. The triple passage on section De Leeuw – Kabeljauw alternating 2.4 kilometer unpaved roads and 4.1 kilometer of cobbles is another important part of the parcours. The last unpaved road, the Ekerse Putten, is situated 10 kilometer before the finish.
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert selected almost the same team as for Dwars door het Hageland, the previous race with unpaved roads in June. The team put in a great performance with five riders in the top 20. The Van Poppel brothers who played a major role, nearly taking the victory on the Citadel of Diest, will be at the start this Sunday. Danny Van Poppel and former winner of the Antwerp Port Epic Aimé De Gendt showed that they are ready for the race by collecting an impressive series of podiums in the Belgian semi classics and the Benelux Tour the last couple of weeks. Taco van der Hoorn’s victory in 2017 was not his only time on the podium of this race, because he also finished 3rd in 2018. He preceded his compatriot Wesley Kreder, who will race again on the Belgian soil after a fantastic Tour of Spain in service of his leaders. Also the Belgian rider Tom Devriendt, 4th in the GP Scherens last month, will defend the colors of the team under the direction of Hilaire Van der Schueren and Steven de Neef.
Aimé De Gendt
Taco van der Hoorn
Boy Van Poppel
Danny Van Poppel
Hilaire Van der Schueren
Steven De Neef