The first cobbles of the day appear on the Haaghoek and shortly the climbing gets underway on the Leberg. The 950 metres hill (4.2% average, 13.8% max) is crested after 41 kilometer in the saddle. The second stretch of pavé is situated on the Huisepontweg before the short ascent of Den Ast. But actually this is still the warm-up phase, the action intensifies in the second half of the race.
After Katteberg and the cobbles on the Holleweg the Leberg reappears at kilometre 110. The route continues onto the Paddestraat for 2.3 kilometres of pavé, and on it goes to the heart of the race. In rapid succession the riders tackle Rekelberg (800 metres at 4%) and Valkenberg (540 metres at 8.1%) before continuing onto the cobbles of the Ruiterstraat, Kerkgate and Jagerij. The Molenberg (463 meter at 7%) leads back onto the cobbles of the Haaghoek before the Leberg pops up again.
Time for a breather? No no. The Omloop powers onto the Berendries (940 metres at 7%) with the lverenberg/Vossenhol (1.3 kilometres at 3.6%, half cobbed) in its wake. In this phase of last year’s the race – with 27 kilometres to go – the lead group was reduced to Lutsenko, Oss, Stybar, Van Avermaet, Wellens and Teuns. The six reached the foot of the Wall of Geraardsbergen 13 seconds ahead of a chasing group.
The renowned cobbled climb is just 475 metres long, but the average gradient sits at 9.3% and the steepest ramps are 20%. Up next is the Bosberg – 980 metres at 5.8% with almost half of it cobbled. The last 12.8 kilometres to the finish in Ninove are played out on the flat.
Last year, Van Avermaet put pressure on his rivals on the Bosberg, but the Olympic champion of Rio did not manage to open up a gap. Wellens accelerated with 2 kilometres left before Stybar countered. The chasers lacked a concerted organisation to bring him back and the Czech powered to victory. Van Avermaet sprinted to second place and Wellens rounded out the podium.
Remarkably, the decisive move occurred at virtually the same spot two years ago. Vanmarcke accelerated with 2 kilometres to go and Valgren counterattacked. The Dane took over and soloed to his first Classics victory. Wisniowski came in second, Vanmarcke in third.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020: route, profiles, more
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