Sunday 5 April is probably marked with a big red circle around the date in many cycling fans’ calendars, both in and outside of Belgium. This also goes for Sint-Niklaas, Hamme, Berlare, Herzele and Zottegem. These villages look forward with great enthusiasm to the first Sunday of April. There are five of them in 2020 and 2021: ‘Villages of de Ronde’. They will join the party alongisde the virtually unchanged course between Antwerp and Oudenaarde.
The Tour of Flanders offers a cours tailor-made for ‘Flandriens’ for the men’s pelotons on Sunday 5 April. The start for the men’s race of 267 kilometres shall be given in Antwerp at 10.30am. Leading up towards the hill zone and Flemish Ardennes where 17 hills and five cobbled sectors await, the peloton crosses the five dedicated ‘Villages of De Ronde’. Many fans will be outside to celebrate cycling in Sint-Niklaas, Hamme, Berlare, Herzele and Zottegem where many activities are planned.
Exciting final with typical Flemish cobbled hills
After passing through the last of the ‘Villages of the Ronde’, the first cobbles loom at the horizon: the duo of Lippenhovestraat and Paddestraat in the municipality of Zottegem. At 150 kilometres from Oudenaarde, the peloton reaches the first hill zone where they ride up and over the Oude Kwaremont. Just like in previous editions, the Oude Kwaremont, three times, and Paterberg, two times, take center stage in the route. The well-known sequence of hills and cobbles in the Flemish Ardennes remains the same, with one exception. The third hill will be Eikenberg and not Ladeuze. The Muur van Geraardsbergen forms part of the race with the classical approach via Tenbosse.
That’s when the final starts. The same six hills as last year will feature in the final 50 kilometers of the race. Just over 45 kilometres from the line, the tough Koppenberg will make the legs sting, followed by the cobbles of Mariaborrestraat, Steenbeekdries and Taaienberg. From the Kruisberg/Hotond in Ronse the peloton goes towards the final, decisive climbs of the Tour of Flanders: Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg.
It’s only 13 kilometres to go from the Paterberg to the finish line on the Minderbroedersstraat in Oudenaarde, where the winner will be celebrated for the ninth time already. This year we look for the successor of Alberto Bettiol.
(c) Sigfrid Eggers