Moves on the unpaved roads and the hilly section inside the last 50 kilometres have been (pre-)decisive on quite a number of occasions. Yet, the fact remains that attackers are a perfect target in the flat run-in to Wevelgem. On the other hand, if the attackers are powerful enough – and the race has been hard enough – a chase does not necessarily have to pay off.
Long story short, Gent-Wevelgem can play out in all sorts of ways and even on a windless and sunny day the race through Flanders Fields is not suited for all sprinters. The route takes in series of hills and three dirt roads – all packed together within 65 kilometres – , which obviously causes exhaustion. The last hill, Kemmelberg, is crested with 34 kilometres remaining.
Following a number of wins by attackers, 2018’s edition once again saw a sprint finish with Peter Sagan taking the spoils. Alexander Kristoff also won from a bunch sprint in 2019, while Mads Pedersen was the fastest and cleverest finisher in last year’s elite group of attackers.
Four contenders in the 2021-edition of Gent-Wevelgem are familiar with the sensation of winning the race – Kristoff (2019), Van Avermaet (2017), Degenkolb (2014), and Boasson Hagen (2009).
Favourites 2021 Gent-Wevelgem
*** Wout van Aert, Matteo Trentin, Sam Bennett
** Cees Bol, Alexander Kristoff, Jasper Philipsen, Tim Merlier
* Arnaud Démare, John Degenkolb, Nils Eekhoff, Davide Ballerini