Ronde van Vlaanderen Course Removes a Few Wrinkles

This yr’s Ronde van Vlaanderen will likely be run over a largely comparable course to different latest variations, so far as the finale goes, however solely after a resumption of the Antwerp begin and a center part that takes the strain off a bit earlier than the race begins in earnest. The web result’s 17 climbs, two fewer than final yr, and 7 cobbles sectors, yet one more from 2023… however we shouldn’t anticipate these adjustments to matter.

We beforehand coated the beginning metropolis, the place it seems like de Ronde will alternate between Bruges and Antwerp, and it’s Antwerp’s flip in 2024. That in fact necessitates a complete totally different strategy to the true half, that first 100km soft-pedal tour of East or West Flanders — East this time, with a contact of Brabant, and never a second in West Flanders.

However there are some noticeable variations within the center portion, from the primary hills and cobbles to the ascent of the Koppenberg the place the race actually takes off. Previous to the Oude Kwaremont at km 136, there are not any early hills, or none with fancy names, although two cobbles sectors, the Lippenhovestraat and Paddestraat of earlier Ronde lore, are returning after having been disregarded final yr.


Paddestraat, 2022
Picture by JASPER JACOBS/BELGA MAG/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

As for the primary half of the climbs, returning are the Kappelleberg and Nieuwe Kruisberg, whereas the Korte Ast, Korte keer, Eikenberg and Kanarieberg are all disregarded this time. Ronse will get two downtown passages, with the parallel Nieuwe and Oude Kruisbergs every getting a flip. But it surely’s common for the race to shuffle the deck a bit previous to climb 10, the second look of the Oude Kwaremont with 55km to go, and the toughest work of the Wolvenberg-Molenberg-Marlboroughstraat-Berendries-Valkenberg string of climbs continues to be there. I’ll miss the Korte Keer, a stunning ascent for us amateurs, however for the race it barely registers besides as possibly a reminder to take off the leg heaters.


Picture by POOL NICO VEREECKE/BELGA MAG/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

The final notable change is that after the Oude Kwaremont-Paterberg sequence, the race heads for the Koppenberg, as typical, however not by way of the tiny farm roads that they often follow, twisting and turning at sharp angles till out of the blue they’re headed up the climb. Somewhat, the race drifts northward on Neerhofstraat and the Hevelweg till it hits the broad and straight N8 freeway to Melden, giving the riders an opportunity to get their ideas collectively simply previous to the fearsome Koppenberg. The organizers touted the protection advantages of doing so, and prompt that it could assist the racing too, which might be proper, on condition that the riders could have already spent an ungodly period of time on the tiny farm tracks, and an opportunity to catch their breath doesn’t sound like a nasty concept in any respect.

From there, de Ronde will play out because it at all times does, taking the N60 to Mariaborrestraat for the Steenbekdries/Stationsberg/Taaienberg sequence, then again to Ronse for the Oude Kruisberg/Hotond sequence resulting in the ultimate Kwaremont/Paterberg ascents and the end. I’d charge this a tolerable quantity of tinkering, and a nice setup for the 2024 Ronde.

Peruse the course particulars right here (login required).

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