The Tour of Flanders is one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the cycling season, the culmination of a series of races on the cobbled roads and short, sharp hills of Belgium and one of cycling five great Monuments.
The long 267-kilometre race is as much a war of attrition as it is a show of outright strength, with team tactics and intimate knowledge of the route also playing an important part in proceedings.
Often the weather can also play its role in defining the race, with the route from Antwerp to Oudenaarde taking on a very different complexion when the rain starts to fall and the wind starts to blow – as it often does at this time of year.
Some of the 18 climbs included in the Tour of Flanders are among the most iconic of all those in bike racing, with a long history in the sport.
They serve to whittle down the number of viable contenders in the race, creating around six to seven hours of unfolding drama to keep race fans entertained.
Former winners of the race include the biggest names in the sport, past and present, including Philippe Gilbert, Eddy Merckx, Johan Museuuw, Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara and Tom Simpson.