The first European WorldTour race in the season is Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The riders set off in the same place as last year, namely Ghent, but the race will finish somewhere else for the next five years. The line is in Meerbeke, near the white church on the Halsesteenweg, where the Tour de Flanders used to arrive until 2011.
The new arrival makes way for an interesting finale with the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg in quick succession. Firstly, a 7.6% cobbled climb of 1.1 kilometres before the next cobbles go up at 6.2% over the same distance. After cresting the Bosberg the riders drop down to the finish in Meerbeke.
The route of the 2018 edition of Omloop het Nieuwsblad amounts to thirteen Flemish ‘hellingen’. The Leberg is the first one at kilometre 64 – 950 metres at 4.2% and with steepest slope at 13.8%. Almost 100 kilometres down the road the Den Ast is next line before the Katteberg looms after 8 more kilometres. Then Leberg pops up again with almost 120 kilometres done. The Leberg is the most popular hill in the 2018 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad as it appears three times.
The climb intensity increases. Kokkerelle, Wolvenberg, Molenberg and, again, Leberg are crested within 23 kilometres before the Berendries – 940 metres at 7% – leads to the Valkenberg – 540 metres at 8.1% – and the Tenbosse, which is a 450 metres climb at 6.9%.
Still 26 kilometres left to race with the Wall of Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg as the last two hurdles. The renowned cobbled climb up the Wall is 475 metres at 9.3% with steepest ramps at almost 20%. Without delay the finale continues on to the Bosberg – 980 metres at 5.8% and almost half of it is cobbled. As said, after the Bosberg the Omloop has 11.9 more kilometres in store to the line on the Halsesteenweg in Meerbeke.
Greg Van Avermaet is title holder.
The 2018 Omloop het Nieuwsblad starts at 10:45 and the finish is expected around 16:30 – both local times. See also the scheduled times.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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