Following the start in Antwerp the 102nd Tour of Flanders heads for Hamme-Zogge, birth place of local hero Greg Van Avermaet. The route continues to Zottegem to get a first taste of cobbles on the Lippenhovenstraat and Paddestraat, but overall the first half of the race is nothing special. At kilometres 120 the Oude Kwaremont makes its first appearance. The 2.2 kilometres cobbled climb – average gradient 4%, steepest ramp 11.6% – is included three times.
And on it goes over the Kortekeer, Edelare and Wolvenberg before the pavé of the Holleweg and Haaghoek gives way to the climbs up the Leberg, Berendries and Ten Bosse. Then, with some 170 kilometres done, the Flemish cycling fans are treated when the Tour of Flanders hits the Muur van Geraardsbergen. Following a five-year absence, one of the most recognisable landmarks of the race made its returns last year. Luckily for the home-crowd, the cobbled climb is included in 2018 also. At 1.1 kilometres and averaging 9.2%, the Muur has legendary status in De Ronde. Its 20% gradients lead up to the iconic chapel on the top.
Following the infamous Muur the Flemings have some time to control their emotions as it takes almost 20 kilometres before the riders tackle the Pottelberg. The route continues to the Kanarieberg before the second climb up the Oude Kwaremont brings the Paterberg in its wake. This cobbled duo will be back in the finale’s finale as they are the last two climbs of the race.
In last edition, Philippe Gilbert attacked on the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont, with 55 kilometres to go, and he pulled off the impossible: he soloed to victory. His performance was brilliant, yet he benefited from a mishap behind him when he launched his attack. Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen crashed and although all three remounted, only Van Avermaet would be back in contention to take second.
Following the first Oude Kwaremont-Paterberg combo it takes only 6 kilometres for the Koppenberg to appear and in less than 10 kilometres the Steenbeekdries and Taaienberg are also crested. Morever, the pavé of the Mariaborrestraat lies in this section, too.
At kilometre 240 the Kruisberg is the entrance to the aforementioned finale’s finale. Some 10 kilometres on the flat run to the 2.2 kilometres Oude Kwaremont, which is crested with 16.7 kilometres to go. Then comes the Paterberg, only 360 metres but with its average gradient at 12.9% and a steepest ramp of 20.3%. At the top the Tour of Flanders has shrunken to a 13.2 kilometres on the flat.
In 2016, Peter Sagan and Sep Vanmarcke were leading on the Oude Kwaremont before Peter Sagan broke free on the Paterberg. A searing acceleration and he soloed to victory.
Tour of Flanders 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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