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The 2020 cycling season has been effectively postponed while global efforts are underway to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
However, amid all the uncertainty and worries shines a light from the heartland of cycling. The 104th edition of the Tour of Flanders was supposed to be held this Sunday. While the 267 kilometer race has been postponed, the organizers have employed modern cycling technology to ensure that the show goes on. Or at least the final 32 kilometers of the show.
Thirteen star riders will virtually line up on Sunday to take place in the first online edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Racers will tackle the final 32 kilometers of the Tour of Flanders, including the climbs of the Kruisberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, before drag racing to the finish in Oudenaarde. Let’s hope it rains.
Below are FloBikes’ favorites for the historic event.
Deceuninck-Quick Step’s young superstar is one of the most talked about riders taking to the start in the virtual De Ronde. This will be Evenepoel’s first participation in a monument.
The young Belgian surpassed expectations in his first year on the WorldTour. Will he add a virtual monument to his palmares in his second year?
Jasper Stuyven rebounded from a “disastrous” 2019 season to claim a convincing win at the 2020 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The talented Belgian appeared poised to deliver the classics season that so many have expected of him since he joined the WorldTour.
Stuyven will put his hard earned form to work in the virtual world on Sunday. Expect to see a serious display of power from the Trek rider.
Greg van Avermaet
In a recent interview with FloBikes, Greg van Avermaet expressed trepidation about virtual racing, claiming that the lack of wind and battle for positioning is one of his favorite elements of bicycle racing. In other words, Van Avermaet was being a typical cyclist, downplaying his chances to the media before a big race.
The ever active van Avermaet has landed himself on the podium of the Tour of Flanders on three occasions. This race has been the white whale of the Flandrien’s career. It would be a slightly cruel twist of fate for van Avermaet to win the virtual edition, but we suspect the cycling world would rejoice in the victory nonetheless.
Wout Van Aert
The three time cyclocross world champion has transitioned to the WorldTour in impressive fashion. With a stage win at the Tour de France already under his belt (two including his team time trial victory), the Belgian was a clear favorite for the 2020 classics season.
While Van Aert may have had an advantage in the turns and technical features of De Ronde, the cyclocrosser has more than enough horsepower to make up for the lack of those features in the virtual world.