2021 Gent-Wevelgem

Gent-Wevelgem, Beautiful Race To Commemorate A Dark Past

Gent-Wevelgem, Beautiful Race To Commemorate A Dark Past

Flemish Classics season continues with Gent Wevelgem, returning to its traditional date in the final weekend of March, on Sunday the 28th.

Mar 9, 2021 by Rebecca Reza
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The Flanders Classics continue with the 83rd installment of Gent Wevelgem on Sunday March 28th. 

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Gent Wevelgem is often viewed as a preparatory race for the following week in Flanders, but has its own share of beauty and intrigue. History buffs relish in the event each year with the course weaving its way in and around the Flemish fields that were once the scene of many battles and atrocities during World War I. The day begins at the start line under the Menin Gate at the city’s edge in Ypres, where locals and tourists gather each day to commemorate British soldiers who died in the Ypres Salient. 

The flag drops to commence a both celebratory and commemorative battle, as the men’s peloton embarks on a 250km day through the Flanders fields. They face two circuits of eight climbs that include the iconic Kemmelberg.  The cobbled climb is the highest point in West Flanders, reaching a max 20% gradient, and is often the scene of the winning move for victory. Position is key for the pure sprinters before the peloton squeezes onto the narrow road that snakes up and over the "berg" before the long, flat 35km run in to the finish in Wevelgem. 

Old Guard Vs. The New In Men's Field

2020 saw a heated battle between cyclocross superstars Wout Van Aert and Mathieu Van Der Poel up the final climb on Kemmelberg until they lost steam in the final stretch, giving Trek Segafredo’s Mads Pedersen the first Classics win of his career. 

Both Pedersen and Van Aert will be returning this year. Other big names joining them will be Deceuninck Quick Step’s Kasper Asgreen, Cofidis Ella Viviani, AG2R Citroën Team’s Greg Van Avermaet who won in 2017, and Bora Hansgrohe’s Peter Sagan, a triple winner of the race in 2013, 2016, and 2018.

Sagan contracted Covid-19 shortly before what would have been his season debut in February and was instead sent into quarantine. He will already have several long, tough races in his legs including Milano-Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatrico, in search for a historic fourth victory. 

UAE-Team Emirates Alexander Kristoff began his Classics campaign strong but an untimely puncture in the final kilometers at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last month robbed the Norwegian of a chance for victory. He won Gent-Wevelgem in 2019 with both strength and cunning; knowing he could not match the accelerations of riders like Van Aert or Van Avermaet on the climb; he took an opportunity to attack several kilometers before it. The move placed him in prime position for the final sprint, where he was unmatched.  

UAE Team Emirates come with a powerful team in addition to Kristoff, including Matteo Trentin who finished third last season, and Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria.

Women Face The Same Kemmelberg Finale

The women will be competing in their 10th edition, starting in Ypres ahead of the men. The course covers 141km, skipping the hills of Northern France but also includes two trips up the Kemmelberg. 

The start list has yet to be revealed however, several past winners including Alé BTC Ljubljana’s Marta Bastianelli and Trek Segafredo’s Lizzie Deignan who was the first champion in 2012 are both expected to line up. 

The 2019 winner Kirsten Wild, was forced to miss the race in 2020 due to a positive Covid test that cut her season short. The Dutch rider has not yet revealed her racing plans. SD Worx boasts the defending champion, Jolien D’Hoore and Chantel Van Den Broek-Blaak who won in 2016. 

Join us on FloBikes for live and on demand coverage of the men's and women's race to see who will triumph on the cobbled roads, climbs and weather of the third round of the Flanders Classics.