Peter Sagan wins 2016 Tour of FlandersWhere: Belgium
When: April 2 2017
Rank: UCI WorldTour

The Tour of Flanders is always special, with it’s history stretching over 100 editions, it’s a true Monument of the cycling calendar.

It’s the race’s rich history that helps make it such a prestigious event. The list of previous winners is full of the great Classics riders, from Rik van Looy, Roger De Vlaeminck and Eddy Merckx to contemporary greats Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen.

At the same time, no rider has ever won here more than three times, illustrating just how difficult a race it is to triumph in. Victory here is never simply a matter of being the strongest rider, but requires a perfect cocktail of tactics, team support and luck, as well as strength.

Any race ridden over cobblestones is a challenge, but the Tour of Flanders is arguably the toughest of all. The riders face a total of eighteen cobbled climbs, each of them notorious not just for their difficulty, but for the many years of history they have observed since the first edition of the Ronde back in 1913. Most famous of all is perhaps the Koppenberg, an absurdly difficult climb that, thanks to its maximum gradient of 22 per cent and uneven cobbles, often forces riders to hop off their bike and walk up sections of it.

Since the reimagining of the route in 2012 (when the much-loved Muur Van Geraardsbergen was removed), the Koppenberg has also been pushed back to around just 45km from the finish to play a more decisive part in how the race unfolds.

But it’s the one-two punch of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg that are the most crucial. They are both climbed in succession shortly prior to the Koppenberg, the former punishingly long and the latter punishingly steep. But it’s the last time over each, at 16.7km and 13.2km from the finish, that will be the real moment of truth of the favourites.

That said, Flanders never plays out in a straightforward manner, and the contenders will have to be alert to what is likely to be many attacks made before these final ascents.

Key riders: Alexander Kristoff | Greg Van Avermaet | Tom Boonen | Peter Sagan 

Previous editions: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

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Four Belgian teams have been handed wildcards for the Tour of Flanders, being joined on the start line by other teams from France, the Netherlands and Italy.

Everyone knows about the cobbles in Northern France and Belgium, but what about those stretches of cobbled climbs on our very own shores?