This Sunday’s Ghent-Wevelgem (March 28) is a very different beast than in previous years – the route of the Belgian Spring Classic has been heavily revised and now includes 16 climbs over 219km.

It’s position in the calendar has also changed. Gone is the awkward mid-week slot and in comes a prime Sunday date, opening the northern classics.

Starting in Deinze and heading north towards the Belgian coast as per usual, the course then goes east into the punchy Flandrian hills, and briefly over the border into France, to encompass repeats of several new climbs, including the Mont des Cats and Mont Noir.

The Kemmelberg remains the race’s centerpiece climb. Coming at the 184km mark, as the 16th hill in the space of 90 kilometres, the steep, cobbled ascent is the race’s last obstacle before a predominantly flat run-in to the finish in Wevelgem.

However, the tough route may rule out a bunch sprint – pure sprinters’ teams will have to work hard to bring their men up to the front in the run-in to Wevelgem. All in all, it looks on paper to suit the attacking rider.

Speaking of which… Last year’s winner, Edvald Boasson Hagen returns albeit with a new team, having jumped ship from HTC-Columbia to Team Sky in the winter.

Ghent-Wevelgem 2010: Who will win?

One word: lottery. With a change in course comes a degree of uncertainty as to how the race will pan out. We’re in uncharted territory here. So we’re going to pick two sets of likely looking riders: attackers and sprinters…

Attackers

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky): last year’s winner has had a strong season so far, but he has been dogged by injury in the past few weeks

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto): likes to attack in every race he rides, this could be his day

Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank): Always a threat for a late attack, one burst from those enormous Swiss thighs and everyone else struggles

Roger Hammond (Cervelo): Briton Hammond is at home in Ghent-Wevelgem as four top ten places atest

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step): If his attack fails, there’s alwasy Tom Boonen for Quick Step. Can’t lose

Marcus Burghardt (BMC): Seventh last year, winner in 2007… can he turn it up for new team BMC?

Sprinters

Tom Boonen (Quick Step): Tornado Tom looks to be right back on form

Oscar Freire (Rabobank): A dominant Milan-San Remo win showed the veteran Spaniaird is flying

Daniele Bennati (Liquigas): Liquigas have been cooking on, er, gas so far this year. Francesco Chicchi is also a possibilty for the Italian team

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions): Course may not suit him, but worth a punt

Allan Davis (RadioShack): Can Davis give The Shack a decent early-season win?

Robbie McEwen (Katusha): We’d love to see Robbie win, but he’s already aired concerns about the number of hills

Ghent-Wevelgem 2010: Teams

Team Sky

Footon-Servetto

Katusha

Omega Pharma-Lotto

Francaise des Jeux

Milram

Quick Step

Lampre

RadioShack

Ag2r-La Mondiale

Liquigas-Doimo

Saxo Bank

Astana

Rabobank

Acqua & Sapone

Caisse d’Epargne

HTC-Columbia

BMC Racing Team

Euskaltel-Euskadi

Garmin-Transitions

Cervelo Test Team

Boasson Hagen wins 2009 Ghent-Wevelgem Columbia Highroad

Ghent-Wevelgem: Recent winners

2009: Edvald Boasson-Hagen

2008: Oscar Freire

2007: Marcus Burghardt

2006: Thor Hushovd

2005: Nico Mattan

2004: Tom Boonen

2003: Andreas Klier

2002: Mario Cipollini

2001: George Hincapie

2000: Geert Van Bondt

Ghent-Wevelgem: Last year’s top ten

1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Columbia-Highroad in 5-00-15

2. Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas same time

3. Matthew Goss (Aus) Saxo Bank at 53sec

4. Mat Hayman (Aus) Rabobank same time

5. Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo at 57sec

6. Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1-49

7. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Columbia-Highroad at 2-14

8. Tom Leezer (Ned) Rabobank

9. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas

10. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at same time.

Ghent-Wevelgem 2010: The British

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)

Tom Faiers (Footon-Servetto)

Adam Blyth (Omega Pharma-Lotto)

Roger Hammond (Cervelo)

Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo)

Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo)

The top 20 finishes by British riders in Ghent-Wevelgem

Of all the Spring Classics, it’s the one where British riders have had the most success. Barry Hoban is the only winner, in 1974, but Tom Simpson, Sean Yates and Roger Hammond have all been runners-up.

1st

Barry Hoban (1974)

Read how Cycling magazine covered Hoban’s Wevelgem win>>

2nd

Tom Simpson (1963)

Sean Yates (1989)

Roger Hammond (2007)

6th

Roger Hammond (2003)

10th

Roger Hammond (2000, 2008)

Jeremy Hunt (2009)

14th

Joey McLoughlin (1987)

16th

Barry Hoban (1969)

John Herety (1982)

17th

Mark Cavendish (2008)

Barry Hoban (1973)

Related links



Ghent-Wevelgem route revamped



Spring Classics 2010: Coverage index



2009: Boasson Hagen wins Ghent-Wevelgem


How Barry Hoban won Ghent-Wevelgem in 1974

 


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