A revamped, hill-packed route for this year’s edition of Ghent-Wevelgem has been announced, accompanying the race’s new position at the head of the cobbled Classics season.
While the 219-kilometre race distance is only slightly longer than in previous years, the big change is the inclusion of sixteen climbs in the route.
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 sixteenth hill in the space of ninety kilometres, the steep, cobbled ascent is the race’s last obstacle before a predominantly flat run-in to the finish in Wevelgem.
The versatile Boasson Hagen will be hoping to make it two in a row in his new Team Sky colours
Often the preserve of sprinters and B-string Classic riders when in its midweek spot between the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, it is hoped that the changes made to the date and route will promote more attacking and decisive racing from the cobbled Classic stars.
The race was won last year by Edvald Boasson Hagen, and is thought to be one of Mark Cavendish’s big goals for the season.
As the distance from the top of the Kemmelberg to Wevelgem remains 35 kilometres, the abundance of short, sharp hills in the business end of this new-look route is likely to make victory for bunch sprinters an altogether tougher proposition.
Boasson Hagen wins Ghent-Wevelgem
How Barry Hoban won Ghent-Wevelgem in 1974