Even on a windless and sunny day Gent-Wevelgem is not suited for all sprinters. The route takes in eleven hills and three sectors of semi-unpaved roads, which obviously causes exhaustion. The last hill, Kemmelberg, is crested with 34 kilometres remaining. In previous editions the Kemmelberg was crucial. Two years ago, Sagan, Vanmarcke and Cancellara attacked on this climb to join lone escapee Kuznetsov, while last year a select group made a pre-decisive move on the Kemmelberg before Jens Keukeleire initiated the ultimate break with 20 kilometres left to race.
The last time Gent-Wevelgem came down to a bunch sprint was four years ago with John Degenkolb powering to victory.
Four contenders in the 2018-edition of Gent-Wevegem are familiar with the sensation of winning the race – Van Avermaet (2017), Sagan (2016, 2013), Degenkolb (2014) and Boasson Hagen (2009).
Until now, Michael Valgren (Omloop Het Nieuwsblad), Dylan Groenewegen (Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne), Tiesj Benoot (Strade Bianche), Vincenzo Nibali (Milan-San Remo) and Niki Terpstra (E3 Harelbeke) were victorious in the major Classics of 2018.
Favourites 2018 Gent-Wevelgem
***** Peter Sagan, Dylan Groenewegen, Arnaud Démare, Elia Viviani
**** Matteo Trentin, Greg Van Avermaet, Magnus Cort Nielsen
*** Jasper Stuyven, Sep Vanmarcke, Sonny Colbrelli
** Edvald Boasson Hagen, John Degenkolb, Michael Valgren, Mike Teunissen
* Ian Stannard, Gianni Moscon, Niki Terpstra, Michael Matthews
Gent – Wevelgem 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more
Click on the images to zoom.