The Belgian cobbled classics continues this Sunday with one of the greatest one day races in cycling, the Tour of Flanders. It’s been won by the some of sports biggest names including Eddy Merckx, Rik van Looy, Roger De Vlaeminck, Johan Museeuw and recently by multiple winners Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara who will want to add to their race wins against race favourites Peter Sagan and Alexander Kristoff.

Here’s a preview of the 2016 Tour of Flanders.

2016 Tour of Flanders Route

The 2016 Tour of Flanders starts at the Market square of Brugge and heads south to Torhout then Tielt all on flat roads before heading further south east to Oudenaarde and the start of the climbs in the Flemish Ardennes. There are 18 climbs starting with Oude Kwaremont with 152km left to race, additionally there are 7 flat cobbled sections.

The final 152km is raced over three different laps featuring the Oude Kwaremont three times, the Paterberg twice and also the Koppenberg which has the races highest maximum gradient at 22%.

The 2016 Tour of Flanders finishes in Oudenaarde after 255km of racing.

2016 Tour of Flanders course map
2016 Tour of Flanders course map
2016 Tour of Flanders course profile
2016 Tour of Flanders course profile

Climbs of the 2016 Tour of Flanders

NumberNameDistance to finishSurfaceLength (m)Average gradientMaximum gradient
1Oude Kwaremont152kmcobbles2,2004.2%11.0%
2Kortekeer141kmasphalt1,0006.4%17.1%
3Eikenberg134kmcobbles1,3006.2%11.0%
4Wolvenberg130kmasphalt6666.8%17.3%
5Molenberg118kmcobbles4637.0%14.2%
6Leberg97kmasphalt7006.1%14.0%
7Berendries93kmasphalt9407.1%12.4%
8Valkenberg88kmasphalt8756.0%15.0%
9Kaperij77kmasphalt1,2505.0%8.0%
10Kanarieberg70kmasphalt1,0007.7%14.0%
11Oude Kwaremont54kmcobbles2,2004.2%11.0%
12Paterberg51kmcobbles40012.5%20.0%
13Koppenberg44kmcobbles60011.6%22.0%
14Steenbeekdries39kmcobbles8207.6%12.8%
15Taaienberg36kmcobbles8007.1%18.0%
16Kruisberg–Hotond26kmcobbles–asphalt2,5005.0%9.0%
17Oude Kwaremont16kmcobbles2,2004.2%12.0%
18Paterberg13kmcobbles40012.5%20.0%

Flat cobbled sections

In addition to the 18 climbs there are 7 flat cobbled sections.

NumberCobbled SectorDistance to finishLength (m)
1Huisepontweg173km1,600
2Ruitersstraat130km800
3Mater-Kerkgate127km2,650
4Jagerij124km800
5Paddestraat113km2,300
6Haaghoek101km2,000
7Mariaborrestraat40km2,000

2016 Tour of Flanders Contenders

Alexander Kristoff winning the 2015 Tour of Flanders
Alexander Kristoff winning the 2015 Tour of Flanders via @ArtofCycling

Alexander Kristoff won the Tour of Flanders last year and is in great form having won the opening stage of the Three Days of De Panne yesterday as well as wins earlier this year at the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman, and Kristoff also finished second in last months Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne. If Kristoff is in the leading group heading to the finish he will be the strongest in the sprint.

Peter Sagan won his first race for 2016 and the first in the world champion jersey at last weekends Gent-Wevelgem, in addition to that win Sagan has six second places this season and was right in contention for a Milan-San Remo win until having to avoid a crashing Fernando Gaviria leading into the sprint. Sagan will be strong on the bergs and will try to force a split from Kristoff.

Fabian Cancellara has won Ronde van Vlaanderen three times before and would love to win again in his final season. Like Sagan, Cancellara was right in contention for a Milan-San Remo win until also having to avoid Gaviria. Cancellara won the Strade Bianche last month and the ITT of the Tirreno – Adriatico.

Greg Van Avermaet finished second in 2014, third last year and comes into the race with wins at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad ahead of Peter Sagan as well as a stage and the overall GC win of the Tirreno – Adriatico, also ahead of Peter Sagan.

Sep Vanmarcke finished third in the 2014 Tour of Flanders and was the only rider able to follow Cancellara’s attack to bridge to riders up the road, Vanmarcke finished 8th in last weeks E3 Harelbeke and then second to Sagan at Gent-Wevelgem.

As well as …

Michal Kwiatkowski Sky bring a strong lineup to the race with Kwiatkowski, Thomas and Stannard in the mix. Kwiatkowski won last weeks E3 Harelbeke
Niki Terpstra Second last year after winning Paris-Roubaix the year before, also has two other top ten places at Flanders so definitely in contention for a win.
Edvald Boasson-Hagen has had stage wins at Tour of Oman and Tour of Qatar this year and starts as Team Dimension Data lead rider.
Geraint Thomas has had two top ten placings at Tour of Flanders and won Paris-Nice last month.
Tom Boonen has won Tour of Flanders three times and Paris-Roubaix four times so that alone puts him in the mix for the win. Best results this year are top 20 in E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem.

Also watch out for Zdenek Stybar, Lars Boom and Tiesj Benoot.

The race starts at 10:15am in Brugge which is 6:15pm AEST Sunday, television coverage is on Eurosport and SBS.

Follow the Tour of Flanders on twitter using #RVV

Additional Links
Ronde van Paterberg – Video, It’s filmed on the Paterberg, used twice in this year’s Tour of Flanders including the final cobbled climb.
Art of Cycling – Greg Leach paints scenes from most races and the image of Alexander Kristoff winning last year is one of them. Keep an eye on his twitter account for paintings of this years race.

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