The Volta Limburg Classic has a reputation to uphold. The reputation of a race that serves as a springboard for young talent on their way to the top in international cycling. Riders who, when they were still young and relatively unknown, achieved a place of honor in the Volta Limburg Classic and later grew into high-profile members in the peloton.
We have listed a number of (fairly) recent examples of this.
Tony Martin (winner in 2008)
Starting with Tony Martin, who booked his first professional victory in 2008 with the (then still) Hel van het Mergelland. In the years that followed, the German became one of the very best time trialists in the world, resulting in numerous resounding victories: from stage wins to multiple world titles in time trial. And yet, despite his almost infinite list of achievements, Martin is still very proud of the beautiful victory he managed to achieve ten years ago in Eijsden.
Pim Ligthart (winner in 2011, fifth in 2013)
Booked his first professional victory on 2 April 2011 with Hel van het Mergelland. Barely two and a half months later became Dutch champion. In a very hot Ootsmarsum he convincingly won the sprint of a small leading group, including Bram Tankink and Bauke Mollema. In the following years, Ligthart recorded four more victories (including a ride in the Ster ZLM Toer) and he grew into a reliable worker in the teams for which he was active. The North Hollander currently cycles in the French Direct-Energy Team, where he is an important domestic of Niki Terpstra.
Simon Geschke (second in 2012, fourth in 2010 and 2011)
2nd three times in a row in Hell van het Mergelland. Worked up in the years that followed to become a reliable domestic of leaders such as Tom Dumoulin, John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel. All-rounder Geschke did the same himself. His best win? Without a doubt the seventeenth stage in the Tour de France of 2015, at the mythical Pra-Loup.
Sonny Colbrelli (second in 2013, 2014 and 2016)
To his great disappointment, he never managed to win the Volta Limburg Classic. Sonny Colbrelli was on stage three times in Eijsden. Always second. He did win in other competitions. And how! So far the count stands at 23 professional wins and places of honor in major competitions such as the Amstel Gold Race and Milan-Sanremo. Last year he almost won the fifth stage in the Tour de France, where Peter Sagan was just a little faster in a sprint uphill.
Magnus Cort (fifth in 2014)
A unique rider who can both sprint well and climb exceptionally well. This versatility has certainly not done him any harm. For example, Magnus Cort has so far had five World Tour wins: two in the Tour of Spain, one in the Tour of France, one in Paris-Nice and one in the BinckBank Tour. And that in addition to a few victories in the Tours of Oman, Yorkshire, Denmark, Norway and Valencia.
Stefan Küng (winner in 2015)
In 2015, the Swiss rider took the lead in the Volta Limburg Classic in a very clever way. The class with which he cycled on the roads in South Limburg and the Belgian Voer region made a deep impression. For Küng, too, this victory meant the first in his then very early professional career. That same year, he won a stage in the highly regarded Tour of Romandia (again solo) and became World team time trial champion. Now, four years later, Küng is one of the best riders in the peloton and he is increasingly expanding his already well-filled honors list with great successes.
Dylan Teuns (third in 2015)
Won the final classification (and a few rides) in the Tours of Poland, Wallonia and Norway. Moreover, Dylan Teuns was on the podium in classics such as the Waalse Pijl and the Tour of Lombardy (both times third). Last year Teuns rode the Vuelta and did it well, not winning a stage but he found himself five times in the top five on a stage.
Jan Tratnik (winner in 2018)
In the months following his Volta Limburg Classic triumph, he effortlessly continued improving with some excellent results in competitions. In addition, Jan Tratnik switched to Bahrain-Merida in 2018. With that team, the reigning Slovenian time trial champion is currently one of the loyal helpers of world top champion Vincenzo Nibali.
Eddie Dunbar (fifth in 2018)
Last year he went to battle early in the Volta Limburg Classic and finally saw his eagerness to be rewarded with a fifth place. Two weeks later he showed himself to the general public again in the leading group during the Amstel Gold Race. After Dunbar's team, Aqua Blue Protect, was forced to quit during the season, Team Sky was right up there to contract the Irishman. They see Dunbar as a talented rider with great potential. And if Team Sky sees it in you, you must be (or become) a good rider.
Original Written by Max van den Boorn on Volta Limburg Website