Apart from the fact the race takes place on a leap day in 2020 and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad celebrates its 75th birthday, there are hardly any changes this year to the first WorldTour race of the season on European soil. Just like in 2019 the traditional opener of the Classics season starts at ’t Kuipke in Ghent and finishes on the Onderwijslaan in Ninove. The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad takes place on Saturday, 29 February 2020.
Traditions are great and should be honoured. Therefore, we will start the day with a joint team presentation of both the men’s and women’s teams in ‘t Kuipke in Ghent. “Ghent is a real cycling city and the traditional first race of the Classics season: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, should be part of this city,” councilwoman Sofie Bracke says enthusiastically. “Cycling fans from Ghent and from outside our city will welcome the riders with open arms in a roaring Kuipke. Together with Flanders Classics we will transform the start of the race into a true celebration of cycling.”
The courses of the first European WorldTour-race have hardly changed for both the men’s and women’s pelotons. Race Director Scott Sunderland: “Both courses, for women and men, are almost identical to the 2019 routes. They are tough, really difficult courses that needed no changes to invite aggressive and exciting styles of classics racing by the classics specialists we see each year at the Omloop in the opening weekend. Riders' memories will be quickly jolted back into the grove of sprinting across the cobbled roads and while powering up the climbs of Flanders between Ghent and Ninove. These roads, the conditions and the spirit of the Omloop promote riders into Flandriens.”
Haaghoek-Leberg and Muur-Bosberg
The men start their 200 kilometres of racing between Ghent and Ninove at 11.35am. They will encounter 13 climbs and nine cobbled sectors along the route to decide who will succeed Zdenek Stybar as the winner of the Omloop. After the traditional opening stages through Zottegem and Zwalm, the peloton reaches Horebeke for the first time. It’s the first of three passages of the Haaghoek-Leberg duo. As in previous years these two climbs will play a key role.
In 2019 the Molenberg was promoted to a place towards the final of the race. This will not change in 2020. At 40 kilometres from the line the cobbled climb awaits the riders and follows after a 2500-metre-long cobbled sector in Mater. After the traditional Berendries climb the Elverenberg follows. The peloton rides via Lierde next towards Geraardsbergen. This means that the shorter route between Berendries and Muur will be the same as in 2019. The peloton thus reaches the final of the race with the iconic duo of Muur of Geraardsbergen and Bosberg. After this it’s another 13 kilometres to the finish line in Ninove where we will celebrate Zdenek Stybar’s successor on the 29th of February.
Intense course for women’s race unchanged
After the joint start presentation in ’t Kuipke the women will start ten minutes later than the men. Their route is 126 kilometres long and features ten climbs and five cobbled sectors, just like in 2019. The women’s race includes the Mater cobbles and the Molenberg, like the men’s race, followed by Berendries and Elverenberg. The women’s peloton then races via Tenbosse and the Eikenmolen to Geraardsbergen. The final, starting with the Muur and Bosberg as key points, is identical to that of the men’s race. Around 3.30pm we will know who succeeds Chantal Blaak as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner on the Onderwijslaan in Ninove.
Mayor of Ninove, Tania De Jonge: "As mayor, I look forward to this opening classic every year. I appreciate the tremendous efforts of each of our city services, the police and the fire brigade to make this a top event every year. Plus having the possibility to work together with the ‘omloopfinish team’ enables us to spoil every cycling enthusiast on this unique day. Welcome to Ninove, the oldest, the most daring, the wisest and most cycling loving city…"
So come to Ghent and Ninove on 29 February 2020 and celebrate 75 years of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with us.
Photo: (c) Photonews