Sunday brings the longest edition of the race since 1998.
Ronde van Vlaanderen returns to Brugge for its start after seven years, with the peloton set to embark on a 273.5km journey through the Flemish Ardennes which will see the peloton take on a total of six cobblestone stretches and 19 hills. The centerpiece of the day will once again be the Oude Kwaremont – Paterberg combo, set to be tackled twice, but the likes of Koppenberg, Steenbeekdries, Taaienberg and Kruisberg/Hotond can also open up the race before the final two climbs – the last of these crested with just 13 kilometers to go.
One of the few Danish riders to win a Monument – the 2021 edition of De Ronde, where he produced an incredible ride and sprint to capture the trophy – Kasper Asgreen will ride Flanders for the fifth time in his career. Just like two years ago, he will be joined by Julian Alaphilippe, who at that time, dressed in the World Champion jersey, played an important role in the team’s eighth triumph at the race.
Soudal Quick-Step’s line-up for the season’s second Monument will be completed by Davide Ballerini, Tim Declercq, Yves Lampaert, Belgian Champion Tim Merlier – who’ll make his Ronde van Vlaanderen debut – and French Champion Florian Sénéchal.
“De Ronde is one of the most important races of the season and, as always, we’ll try to give everything on the bergs, and hopefully luck will be on our side. Julian is still improving, so we’ll see how he goes on Sunday. Kasper, Davide, Yves and Florian are other strong riders, who can try something at some point. Tim Declercq is the one capable of helping them, and the same can be said about Tim Merlier. It will be his first Flanders, he is in good shape and he will try to support the guys”, said sports director Tom Steels.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images