Belgium is getting warmed-up for the big Spring Classics ahead, and – to be honest – we all are. We are looking for the successor of Van Aert, who started his road season last year with a brilliant performance. He kicked away in the run-up to the last climb, Bosberg, and soloed to victory.
The Flemish powerhouse is not defending his title and, as the season is still young, it is hard to pinpoint absolute favourites. Quite a number of riders are beginning their 2023 campaign on the Flemish roads. Who’s on form, who’s got work to do?
The finale of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is a carbon-copy of the old Tour of Flanders for quite some time now. Usually, only a select group survives the combination of the Wall of Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg inside the last 20 kilometres, although – as already mentioned – last year we saw a different scenario unfold with only one rider surviving this sector.
In fact, the outcome that was being rolled out in 2021 was even more remarkable. A bunch sprint! At the end of a race with 13 ‘hellingen’ and 9 stretches of pavé it was Davide Ballerini who outsprinted the lot.
But normaly it comes down to the Wall of Geraardsbergen/Bosberg comnination. The iconic Wall is a cobbled speed breaker of 475 metres at 9.3% before the Bosberg serves a 980 metres climb at 5.8% (half of it cobbled). After the Bosberg there are 12.8 flat kilometres left to race.
There are five former winners at the start of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Sep Vanmarcke (2012), Greg Van Avermaet (2016, 2017), Zdenek Stybar (2019), Jasper Stuyven (2020), and Davide Ballerini (2021). The last three were victorious on the parcours with the redrawn finale.
Favourites 2023 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
**** Tim Wellens, Tom Pidcock, Christophe Laporte
*** Jasper Philipsen, Matej Mohoric, Jasper Stuyven, Arnaud De Lie
** Tiesj Benoot, Søren Kragh Andersen, Dylan van Baarle, Fred Wright
* Ide Schelling, Stefan Küng, Mike Teunissen, Benoît Cosnefroy, Matteo Jorgenson