The 2020 cobbled classics kick off on Saturday, February 29, with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium.
The organisers – Flanders Classics – promote a men’s and women’s race on the same day, the routes typically being 199.8 kilometres and 121km respectively.
The race will finish in Ninove, with the final kilometres lit up by the Muur van Geraardsbergen. With Belgian spring classic Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne taking place the very next day, this race very much marks the beginning of the 2020 season.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020 route
The 199.8km route for the men’s race covers usually 13 climbs and a total of seven cobbled sections and a host of steep climbs.
The final is designed to provide explosive racing, with a duo ascent of the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg in quick succession.
Riders set off from Ghent, and in 2019 they finished in Ninove, a change on the 2018 route. Everything else was much the same.
The first climb erupts from Leberg, and is crested at kilometre 41. Soon after come the cobbles, at Haaghoek. The second pavé section comes at Huisepontweg, 70 kilometres in, and there’s a short climb soon after on Den Ast.
At the midway point, is the Katteberg climb, then more cobbles at the Holleweg and Haaghoek, before Leberg appears again at 110km.
Next up is a 2km pavé section, the Paddestraat.
Once the riders crest Rekelberg, they’ve yet to face the Valkenberg and Wolvenberg. Then there’s three cobbles sections: Ruiterstraat, Kerkgate and Jagerij.
The next challenge is the 500m long Molenberg, before yet another duo of the Haagkoek and Leberg, and then the Berendries and Elverenberg/Vossenhol, which covers 1.3km.
The last 30km set the race up for an exciting final, with the 475m cobbled Muur, which peaks up at 20 per cent. Soon after comes the 980m Bosberg, before a 12.8km charge to the finish line and a sprint in Ninove.
The women’s race, at 123km long, also starts in Gent but in 2019 finished in the town of Meerbeke, with riders tackling 10 climbs and five cobbled sections during the day.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020 TV guide
It is anticipated that Eurosport will be showing live coverage from the race, as well as highlights at various times. We’ll update our TV guide when times are published.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad previous winners
2005 Nick Nuyens (BEL) Quick-Step–Innergetic
2006 Philippe Gilbert (BEL) Française des Jeux
2007 Filippo Pozzato (ITA) Liquigas
2008 Philippe Gilbert (BEL) Française des Jeux
2009 Thor Hushovd (NOR) Cervélo TestTeam
2010 Juan Antonio Flecha (ESP) Team Sky
2011 Sebastian Langeveld (NED) Rabobank
2012 Sep Vanmarcke (BEL) Garmin–Barracuda
2013 Luca Paolini (ITA) Team Katusha
2014 Ian Stannard (GBR) Team Sky
2015 Ian Stannard (GBR) Team Sky
2016 Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) BMC Racing Team
2017 Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) BMC Racing Team
2018 Michael Valgren (Den) Astana
2019 Zdeněk Štybar (Czh) Deceuninck–Quick-Step
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad women’s previous winners
2006 Suzanne de Goede AA Drink Cycling
2007 Mie Bekker Lacota Flexipoint
2008 Kirsten Wild AA Drink Cycling
2009 Suzanne de Goede Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung
2010 Emma Johansson Red Sun Cycling Team
2011 Emma Johansson HiTec Products-UCK
2012 Loes Gunnewijk GreenEDGE-AIS
2013 Tiffany Cromwell Orica-AIS
2014 Amy Pieters Skil Koga
2015 Anna van der Breggen Rabo-Liv
2016 Lizzie Armitstead Boels-Dolmans
2017 Lucinda Brand Team Sunweb
2018 Christina Malling Siggaard (Den) Team Virtu Cycling
2019 Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boels Dolmans