This Sunday’s Ghent-Wevelgem (March 28) is a very different beast than in previous years – the route of the Belgian Spring Classic has been heavily revised and now includes 16 climbs over 219km.
It’s position in the calendar has also changed. Gone is the awkward mid-week slot and in comes a prime Sunday date, opening the northern classics.
Starting in Deinze and heading north towards the Belgian coast as per usual, the course then goes east into the punchy Flandrian hills, and briefly over the border into France, to encompass repeats of several new climbs, including the Mont des Cats and Mont Noir.
The Kemmelberg remains the race’s centerpiece climb. Coming at the 184km mark, as the 16th hill in the space of 90 kilometres, the steep, cobbled ascent is the race’s last obstacle before a predominantly flat run-in to the finish in Wevelgem.
However, the tough route may rule out a bunch sprint – pure sprinters’ teams will have to work hard to bring their men up to the front in the run-in to Wevelgem. All in all, it looks on paper to suit the attacking rider.
Speaking of which… Last year’s winner, Edvald Boasson Hagen returns albeit with a new team, having jumped ship from HTC-Columbia to Team Sky in the winter.
Ghent-Wevelgem 2010: Who will win?
One word: lottery. With a change in course comes a degree of uncertainty as to how the race will pan out. We’re in uncharted territory here. So we’re going to pick two sets of likely looking riders: attackers and sprinters…
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky): last year’s winner has had a strong season so far, but he has been dogged by injury in the past few weeks
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto): likes to attack in every race he rides, this could be his day
Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank): Always a threat for a late attack, one burst from those enormous Swiss thighs and everyone else struggles
Roger Hammond (Cervelo): Briton Hammond is at home in Ghent-Wevelgem as four top ten places atest
Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step): If his attack fails, there’s alwasy Tom Boonen for Quick Step. Can’t lose
Marcus Burghardt (BMC): Seventh last year, winner in 2007… can he turn it up for new team BMC?
Tom Boonen (Quick Step): Tornado Tom looks to be right back on form
Oscar Freire (Rabobank): A dominant Milan-San Remo win showed the veteran Spaniaird is flying
Daniele Bennati (Liquigas): Liquigas have been cooking on, er, gas so far this year. Francesco Chicchi is also a possibilty for the Italian team
Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions): Course may not suit him, but worth a punt
Allan Davis (RadioShack): Can Davis give The Shack a decent early-season win?
Robbie McEwen (Katusha): We’d love to see Robbie win, but he’s already aired concerns about the number of hills
Ghent-Wevelgem 2010: Teams
Francaise des Jeux
Acqua & Sapone
BMC Racing Team
Cervelo Test Team
Ghent-Wevelgem: Recent winners
2009: Edvald Boasson-Hagen
2008: Oscar Freire
2007: Marcus Burghardt
2006: Thor Hushovd
2005: Nico Mattan
2004: Tom Boonen
2003: Andreas Klier
2002: Mario Cipollini
2001: George Hincapie
2000: Geert Van Bondt
Ghent-Wevelgem: Last year’s top ten
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Columbia-Highroad in 5-00-15
2. Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas same time
3. Matthew Goss (Aus) Saxo Bank at 53sec
4. Mat Hayman (Aus) Rabobank same time
5. Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo at 57sec
6. Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1-49
7. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Columbia-Highroad at 2-14
8. Tom Leezer (Ned) Rabobank
9. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas
10. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at same time.
Ghent-Wevelgem 2010: The British
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
Tom Faiers (Footon-Servetto)
Adam Blyth (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
Roger Hammond (Cervelo)
Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo)
Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo)
The top 20 finishes by British riders in Ghent-Wevelgem
Of all the Spring Classics, it’s the one where British riders have had the most success. Barry Hoban is the only winner, in 1974, but Tom Simpson, Sean Yates and Roger Hammond have all been runners-up.
Barry Hoban (1974)
Read how Cycling magazine covered Hoban’s Wevelgem win>>
Tom Simpson (1963)
Sean Yates (1989)
Roger Hammond (2007)
Roger Hammond (2003)
Roger Hammond (2000, 2008)
Jeremy Hunt (2009)
Joey McLoughlin (1987)
Barry Hoban (1969)
John Herety (1982)
Mark Cavendish (2008)
Barry Hoban (1973)