The time has come for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018. The opening race of the Belgian road calendar is just around the corner and, together with Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, completes an intense weekend of racing on Flemish soil. Once known as Het Volk, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is a World Tour race since last year and represents the first comparison amongst the Classics specialists. Scheduled for Saturday 24 February, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 will host 25 teams on its starting grid. 17 of these are World teams – Movistar is the only one who gave up – and the remaining 8 are Professional teams. Former Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Greg van Avermaet is taking part to the first European World Tour race of the season.
Start time: 11.35
Expected finish time: 16.19 – 16.47
Official Hashtag: #OHN18
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 Course
Gand > Ninove (196,2 km)
The magic of the Kapelmuur – aka De Muur, literally “The wall” as to underline that it is the most iconic of all – is back in cycling. Although the renowned climb has been put inside the course of several Flemish races since the Ronde van Vlaanderen kicked it out its finale, none of one day races – including itself the Ronde, which reintroduced it last year but with 95 kilometers to go – has given back the fascination of this brief but harsh ascent. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 inserts again the Muur and, most important thing, with just over 15 kilometers remaining. Only the Bosberg, 11% maximum and 5% average over a distance of 1350 meters with 12 kilometers to go, stands between the riders and the finish line.
The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad organizers changed the traditional finish of Gent into the probably most exiting one in Ninove. In facts, the peloton won’t have time to sigh along the last hundred kilometers of racing. Moreover, there won’t be anymore 35 kilometers between the last climb of the day and the finish line like it used to be until the last edition, but only ten. The riders will procede though a nervous but not too bumpy course until the cobblestones of the Huisepontweg: over the first 90 kilometers of racing, in facts, only the Haaghoeck and the climb of Leberg will get the riders worried.
Since the troops will pass through the Huisepontweg, the race will break the seal. Along the final 104 kilometers 6 cobbled tractions and 12 muurs – 6 of which topped with cobblestones – will spice up the race. In a row, Lange Aststraat (450 meters-long cobbled road), Katteberg (750 meters, 6% average and 11% maximum), Holleweg (1500 meters-long cobbled road), Haaghoeck (1700 meters-long cobbled road), Leberg (700 meters, 6% average and 14% maximum), Kokerelle (700 meters, 6% average, 9,5% maximum), Wolvenberg (800 meters, 6,5% average and 13% maximum), Ruiterstraat (800 meters-long cobbled road), Jagerij (1000 meters-long cobbled road), the Molenberg (500 meters, 7% average and 17% maximum), which Philippe Gilbert pointed as key climb, and again Haaghoeck (1700 meters-long cobbled road) and Leberg (700 meters, 6% average and 14% maximum) will characterise the central stages of racing.
With 38 kilometers to go the course will step outside the circuit around Horebeke and will proceed towards Geraardsbergen. The first asperity the race will hit at his point is the Berendries (38 kms to go, 900 meters, 7% average and 14% maximum), followed by the Valkenberg (30 kms to go, 550 meters, 8% average and 13% maximum) and the Tenbosse (27 kms to go, 450 meters, 6% average and 9% maximum) before the course will get into Geraardsbergen. Here the race will become hot stuff. The Kapelmuur will presumably work as a tough judge for those who want to put the game away. With 9% average gradient and a maximum one of 20%, this cobbled historical ascent will probably be framed with hundreds of people screaming and endorsing the riders. Ast this point of the race only the Bosberg – or, at least, the tens of kilometers between this ascent and the finish line – can change the game.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 Planimetry
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 Profile