Preview: Your information to the 2020 males’s Tour of Flanders | CyclingTips

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Preview: Your guide to the 2020 men's Tour of Flanders | CyclingTips


There have been rumours it might be known as off as a result of COVID-19, however as issues presently stand, the 2020 Tour of Flanders goes forward this Sunday. Right here’s what you need to know in regards to the 104th males’s version of Belgium’s largest bike race. Observe the hyperlink for our preview of the ladies’s race.


The course

As with Gent-Wevelgem final weekend and Scheldeprijs on Wednesday, race organiser Flanders Classics opted to not publicly reveal the course for this yr’s Tour of Flanders. “Given the present well being state of affairs in Belgium, we as [an] organisation name on you to comply with the race at house,” the race’s web site says. “It was due to this fact determined to not launch any details about the course.”

Certainly no followers are allowed on the course’s hottest spots, together with the beginning in Antwerp, the end in Oudenaarde, the Oude Kwaremont, the Paterberg, the Koppenberg and so forth. Fines will reportedly be issued for those who flip up.

We mightn’t know the precise nature of the course, however because of an earlier information merchandise on the race web site, we do know crucial elements. The race has been shortened from its standard size of roughly 270 km right down to 241 km, “To supply the groups and riders with sufficient alternative to relaxation between the races that can comply with one another in fast succession in October.” On account of the change, the Tenbosse and the legendary Muur van Geraadsbergen is not going to function on this yr’s race.

We gained’t be seeing this on this yr’s race, sadly. Not solely has the Muur been faraway from the course, however there gained’t be any huge crowds.

The now acquainted ultimate 50 km of the race is ready to stay intact although. The Koppenberg will function “adopted by the cobblestones of the Mariaborrestraat, Steenbeekdries and Taaienberg.” The race’s two ultimate climbs would be the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg as they’ve been for a number of years now.

From the highest of the Paterberg it’s 13 km of principally flat roads to the end.

Right here’s how final yr’s profile appeared. This yr’s appears more likely to be a lot the identical, albeit with some modifications two-thirds of the best way via the race.

The way it would possibly unfold

Even with the space discount, that is nonetheless a protracted and really exhausting race. The cobbled climbs are the place ‘De Ronde’ is often determined. Anticipate loads of assaults inside the ultimate 50 km because the favourites begin to make their presence felt up entrance.

The Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg are more likely to play host to probably the most decisive assaults. The race will already be right down to a choose subset of the peloton by that time, and it’ll cut up up even additional on the ultimate two bergs.

Historical past tells us that the race is more likely to be gained by a solo rider or from a really small group. Of the previous 10 editions, six had been gained solo, one was gained from a bunch of two, two completed with a bunch of three, and one had 4 sprinting for the win. Yep: it’s a tough and selective race.

The contenders

When contemplating the favourites for Sunday’s race, there are two riders who come to thoughts instantly: Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma). The Dutchman and the Belgian have had loads of battles on the cyclocross observe — they’ve three world titles every — however we nonetheless haven’t seen them race head-to-head on the street, at full power, all that usually. Each are completely peaking for this race.

Each riders are in scintillating kind, having carried out unimaginable issues this season. Van Aert gained Strade Bianche solo then gained Milan-San Remo in a two-up dash. He gained a stage of the Dauphine, the Belgian ITT title, then two dash phases on the Tour de France. He was additionally second within the Worlds time trial and second within the Worlds street race.

Van Aert beating Julian Alaphilippe at Milan-San Remo this yr.

Van der Poel took just a little longer to get going this yr, however gained the Dutch street race title with a formidable 44 km solo transfer, he gained a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico with a late assault on the uphill end, after which he gained the BinckBank Tour courtesy of an outrageous 50 km solo assault on the ultimate stage.

Each riders are sensible at getting away solo, they usually’re each sturdy sufficient to win a bunch dash, not to mention a dash from a small group (which is more likely on Sunday). On paper, certainly one of these two is more likely to win on Sunday. Predicting which one, effectively, that’s one other matter.

Van der Poel on his technique to an incredible stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Van der Poel has the higher document at Flanders — he was fourth final yr in his debut version, even after a crash, whereas Van Aert has “solely” managed ninth and 14th in his two visits. If pressured to decide on I’d most likely say Van der Poel is barely extra more likely to win, given he appears extra keen to assault from a lot additional out the Van Aert. Perhaps that provides him one other card to play on the day. However actually, who is aware of.

It’s value noting what occurred between the pair at Gent-Wevelgem final weekend. Each Van der Poel and Van Aert had been within the lead group when the successful transfer went with a couple of kilometres to go. Every was seemingly extra involved with stopping the opposite from successful than they had been with taking the danger of serving to their rival bridge throughout. It’s going to be fascinating to see whether or not the identical occurs once more at Flanders.

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is on debut in Flanders however he’s bought an incredible shot at victory. He is available in with enviable kind having gained Brabantse Pijl, gone shut at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, gained the Street World Championships, and brought an incredible stage win on the Tour de France.

On paper, Alaphilippe ought to be advantageous on the climbs, and he ought to be capable of match the inevitable accelerations of Van Aert and Van der Poel. If it involves a dash and people guys are there, Alaphilippe would possibly wrestle (see Milan-San Remo this yr), however then he won’t (see Brabantse Pijl).

Ideally, Alaphilippe will look to get away on his personal on the Paterberg with round 13 km to go. That is roughly the space the Frenchman attacked from to win stage 2 of this yr’s Tour, stage 3 of final yr’s Tour, and this yr’s Worlds.

Notice too that, as standard, Alaphilippe has an incredible workforce round him. Zdenek Stybar, Kasper Asgreen (second final yr), Bob Jungels, Yves Lampaert — that’s lots of sturdy guys which can be able to their very own good consequence if ‘LouLou’ is having an off day.

Alaphilippe beat Van der Poel in a dash at Brabantse Pijl, however solely simply. It most likely helped the Frenchman that Van der Poel bought boxed in.

Talking of world champions, Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) deserves to be within the dialog on Sunday. His second place within the 2018 version (behind Niki Terpstra) was a breakout efficiency and he’s solely improved since then.

It’s a disgrace he didn’t get to contest Flanders within the rainbow bands (because of coronavirus) however his kind is definitely in the suitable place for Sunday. He gained a stage and took a second on the BinckBank Tour earlier this month and final weekend he gained Gent-Wevelgem from a small group.

Sadly Pedersen needed to stop Scheldeprijs on Wednesday with a hamstring ailment so hopefully he’s advantageous for Sunday. If he’s, he’s an incredible likelihood. His greatest guess might be from a small group, however a solo win is effectively inside his vary too.

Pedersen successful Gent-Wevelgem final weekend.

Matteo Trentin (CCC) was within the successful transfer with Pedersen at Gent-Wevelgem final weekend (and when Pedersen gained Worlds final yr!) and ended up third. He appeared very sturdy all through the day and is clearly hungry for Classics success.

The Italian is but to win with CCC — what higher technique to break the drought than by successful Flanders? His greatest consequence thus far is thirteenth. Based mostly on present kind he ought to simply enhance on that come Sunday. Like Pedersen his greatest likelihood of victory might be from a small group, as long as he’s the quickest finisher there. In any other case he may need to get a bit extra artistic.

Trentin on the cobbles of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad earlier this yr.

Judging by his latest outcomes, Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos) is on observe for a robust Ronde. Fourth at Worlds, sixth at Fleche-Wallonne, tenth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, sixth at Brabantse Pijl, and all after a stage win on the Tour de France. It was at Flanders again in 2013 that Kwiatkowski actually made a reputation for himself, however, surprisingly, he’s by no means completed larger than twenty seventh. We will count on that to alter on Sunday.

Like so most of the riders above, ‘Kwiato’ has a pair related strings to his bow: he can go it alone if the chance arises, and he can win from a small group too. Notice that Kwiatkowski has a robust Ineos workforce round him as effectively: Gianni Moscon (fifth at Paris-Roubaix), Luke Rowe (fifth in 2016) and Dylan van Baarle (a fourth and a sixth) are all confirmed Classics performers.

Kwiatkowski (proper) successful stage 18 of the latest Tour de France.

Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ): The Swiss powerhouse has been fairly spectacular in latest weeks with third within the Worlds ITT, third general on the BinckBank Tour, then fifth at Gent-Wevelgem. Based mostly on how he’s been using, we are able to most likely count on him to be within the combine late in proceedings. If he’s going to win, he’ll nearly definitely have to go it alone. Don’t rule that out.

After all, I would like to say final yr’s winner, Alberto Bettiol (EF Professional Biking). He was a shock winner final yr, however he wouldn’t be this time round. His kind’s on the right track too: he was fourth at Gent-Wevelgem final Sunday from the successful group. He’ll most likely have to go solo once more if he’s to win back-to-back titles. That stated, he mightn’t be given as a lot freedom this time …

Alberto Bettiol made his transfer on the ultimate ascent of the Oude Kwaremont to win in 2019.

Notice that on the time of writing, Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) was not sure about whether or not he’d begin, after breaking some ribs and tearing a ligament in his shoulder in a crash at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He’s stated he gained’t take the beginning simply to make up the numbers, so if he does begin, positively maintain an eye fixed out for him. He’s bought eight top-10s at De Ronde, together with three podium finishes with out a win.

The outsiders

As Bettiol confirmed final yr, it’s not all the time the large favourites that win at Flanders. Generally its a smaller-name rider who can reap the benefits of the race state of affairs. There are various riders that would function on this means come Sunday. Listed below are a few of them.

Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Crew Emirates) gained this race again in 2015 when he bought clear with Niki Terpstra. He’s not as sturdy now as he was then, however as he confirmed on stage 1 of the Tour de France we positively shouldn’t be writing him off but. He’s most likely unlikely to win it, however his greatest likelihood of doing so is from a small-group dash.

Kristoff successful the 2015 version.

Talking of Terpstra (Direct Energie), the Dutchman went on to win the race in 2018 (solo). A foul crash in coaching again in June has derailed his 2020 season and one other win can be a shock, however he is aware of learn how to race De Ronde and on his day he will be very harmful.

Oliver Naesen (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is a kind of riders that appears to be perpetually near an enormous one-day win with out truly getting one. His seventh final yr was his greatest Flanders consequence and he’s definitely able to enhancing on that if the race unfolds in his favour. He’s not the strongest soloist nor the perfect sprinter, however the podium is definitely a risk.

Naesen gained the ultimate stage of final yr’s BinckBank Tour.

Tiesj Benoot (Sunweb) has been nibbling away at a very good Flanders consequence — his three finishes within the race are fifth, eighth, and a ninth final yr. He was eighth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege a couple of weeks again so he’s clearly in good kind. A late solo dig would doubtless be his greatest guess.

One other rider with three Flanders top-10s with out a win is John Degenkolb (Lotto-Soudal). Like Kristoff, the German’s perfect is seemingly behind him, however a seventh at Gent-Wevelgem final weekend suggests he may play a task on Sunday.

Degenkolb’s compatriot Nils Politt (Israel Begin-Up Nation) is a rider who appears destined for an enormous win within the Classics however who hasn’t fairly bought there but. He was fifth in final yr’s Ronde (and second at Paris-Roubaix) and would love to enhance on that in 2020. His outcomes haven’t been spectacular in latest weeks, however Flanders is a distinct beast to absolutely anything else on the calendar.

You also needs to keep watch over Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb). The Dane had a breakout Tour de France, successful two phases solo with late assaults, and really almost gained the BinckBank Tour after taking out the stage 4 ITT. It took a rampaging Van der Poel to dislodge Kragh Andersen from the highest of the GC on the final potential second.

The 26-year-old has solely been common at De Ronde earlier than — finishes of 53th, 74th and two DNFs — however he’s clearly stepped up a degree in his rides this yr …

watch

In the event you’re in Australia you’ll wish to try protection through SBS TV and its digital platforms, or Eurosport and its on-line platforms. Eurosport is a superb choice in lots of European markets and the UK too, whereas viewers within the US and Canada ought to be capable of get protection through FloBikes.

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