It’s been less than six months since the last edition of De Ronde. No autumn race this time, but we’re back with the High Mass of Flemish cycling on Easter day.
The Tour of Flanders sets off from Antwerp and the riders get a first taste of cobbles after 85 kilometres. The pavé on the Lippenhovenstraat and Paddestraat appears in quick succession, but, to be frank, the first half of the race is nothing special. The eager anticipation of what’s in store gives the race its edge as this stage.
Following climbs up the Kattenberg and Oude Kwaremont De Ronde intensifies when the Kortekeer climb appears round the midway marker. Packed together within 35 kilometres the riders tackle the Eikenberg, Holleweg (cobbles), Karel Martelstraat (cobbles), Jagerij (cobbles), Wolvenberg, Molenberg, Marlboroughstraat, Berendries, and Valkenberg.
Berg Ten Houte and Kanarieberg seems to be somewhat lost, situated on its own with more than 70 kilometres to go. But then, with still 55 kilometres remaining, the finale opens when the riders tackle the Oude Kwaremont/Paterberg combo for the first time. De Ronde enters an exciting phase with Koppenberg (600 metres at 11.6%), Mariaborrestraat (cobbles, 2,400 metres), Steenbeekdries (700 metres at 5.3%) and Taaienberg (530 metres at 6.6%, cobbled) within 10 kilometres.
This was the pre-decisive phase of last year’s edition. The breakaway was brought back shortly after the Paterberg and following a lot of movement Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert prevailed after the Taaienberg. Moments later Alaphilippe collided with a motor bike and crashed out of contention.
With 30 kilometres left the riders tackle the Kruisberg (2,500 metres at 5%) before the Oude Kwaremont makes its last appearance ainside the last 20 kilometres. The cobbled climb is 2,200 metres long and averages 4%, while the Paterberg is quite the opposite. Only 360 metres long, but definitely a killer with its average gradient of 12.9% and steepest ramp of 20.3%.
The last 13.2 kilometres of De Ronde are played out on the flat.
Tour of Flanders 2021: interactive maps, social media
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