The Tour of Flanders combines cobbles, climbs and cycling skills and plays them out in the heart of the most passionate cycling community in the world. The route of this year?s 91st edition begins in the central square of Bruges before heading south to Kortrijk and then east into the heart of the Flemish countryside.

The 18 bergs begin in the final 125km, as the race route twists backwards and forwards before heading towards Brussels and the finish in Ninove. Eight of the climbs are cobbled with the remainder smooth tarmac, but it’s the fight for position within the peloton before each climb, and the attacks over the top of the climbs that combine to inspire the racing and deciden the contenders.

The restored Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg come early in the race but always indicate who has a chance of winning. The triple-cobbled-whammy of the Steenbeekdries, Taaienberg and Eikenberg come in quick succession, while decisive attacks in recent years have come on climb number 14, the Valkenberg.

Boonen chased after Leif Hoste who attacked at this point in 2006 although at 39km to go it’s a long run to the finish. If a small group of riders gests clear, further attacks will come on the Tenbosse the Eikenmolen, the twisting and cobbled Muur-Kapelmuur and the final straight Bosberg that comes just 12kms from the finish.

The Kapelmuur is the most spectacular climb of the finale and is packed with thousands of spectators who cling to the road side while cheering on the riders, while the Bosberg is the last chance to get away before the fast run-in to Ninove.

As ever the weather will be an important factor in deciding the winner, and the tactics of the race. Rain causes havoc on the cobbles and crashes are more frequent if riders are fighting for position to avoid strong side winds. Forecasts for Sunday are for dry but cold conditions. Most of the Belgians are hoping for rain to cause a selection while the Italians always perform better on drier faster roads.

See the official race website at www.rvv.be.

Tour of Flanders hills:

1 Molenberg at 125 km to go
2 Wolvenberg 115km
3 Kluisberg 94km
4 Knokteberg 86km
5 Oude Kwaremont 79km
6 Paterberg 76km
7 Kortekeer 71km
8 Steenbeekdries 67km
9 Taaienberg 65km
10 Eikenberg 60km
11 Boigneberg 56km
12 Leberg 48km
13 Berendries 44km
14 Valkenberg 39km
15 Tenbosse 33km
16 Eikenmolen 27km
17 Muur – Kapelmuur 16km
18 Bosberg 12km