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L'arri

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73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
« on: February 20, 2018, 10:03 »
73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Sat 24 Feb, Gent - Meerbeke, 196km

Quote from: Just Some Guy
Cycling is a Europe thing only and I only watch from Omloop on cause I am cool and sh*t

Welcome everybody to what used to be called the first real bike race of the year.

Although period photos confirm that many top riders would rock up to the erstwhile Het Volk a bit overweight one supposes, I suppose, that the supposed modern era of cycling has supposedly overwritten this little prejudice.

In defence of that old supposition, however, I think most who held it did so because they wanted to express their relief for the arrival of a season of properly televised sport rather than a more chauvinistic Northern preference for cobbles and sh*t weather.

Now I have been, as many of you know, a frequent and fervent spectator at this fine race but times change (these days I prefer to get a ride in during the morning hours) and so too, in 2018, the parcours.


Photo: Laz

The official website of the race would have us believe that this year's edition is a "trip down memory lane" but those who know something of the divisive identity politics that is a part of our times could argue that a better label for it might be "cultural appropriation".

That's because, ladies and gentlemen, the finale of this year's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad looks more like yesteryear's Ronde van Vlaanderen, scaling the Muur and the Bosberg and finishing in Meerbeke.

Revolutionary it isn't, but what it is for sure is an opportunity to flip the script of the race, which so often features a select and strong finishing group, as opposed to the famous solos for which this run-in was always remembered. Consider the Ronde victories of Edwig 'Eddy Bosberg' Van Hooydonck, Jacky Durand and Johan Museeuw or that of Fabian Cancellara in full Swiss kit and the last (to date) to ride into Meerbeke alone.


Durand and Wegmüller in the 1992 Ronde

And while I fully expect the Ronde to return someday to that classic configuration, perhaps once Flanders Classics has got fat enough on host city money, let's remember that we are talking about OHN here, a whole month earlier.

Why do I love it so? At least until it obtained WT status, the Omloop often gave a different shuffle of riders a chance, riders who typically rode for others on the biggest days (Stannard, Paolini), riders who didn't need to peak in April, or upcoming youngsters (Nelissen, Steels, Gilbert, Pozzato)

Weather conditions notwithstanding (Omloop was only cancelled once due to snow, contrasting with Sunday's KBK which has failed to start three times) spectating is a boon with smaller crowds enjoying the drama. One can still get to see the race at multiple locations with no more than a fairly modest knowledge of the backroads and a decent GPS device.


2018 parcours

Even if the Belgian teams and those with local staff already possess that sort of deep knowledge, the impact of the route changes will almost certainly alter team tactics. For what we have is, instead of the progressive rinse programme normally dialled in, a strange hiatus on that seemingly endless stretch from Peter Van Petegem's hometown of Brakel through Parike to Geraardsbergen and the mad theatre of the final act and few riders on Saturday will have been around long enough to remember how that sector played out in the Ronde.

I would expect to see a big shake-out on the Molenberg, which used to be the last climb of the day, as it initiates a string of less notable bergs which might become more decisive than usual, and then a final split on the Muur as the eventual winner attempts to finish off as much of the competition as possible, preferably all of it. If a group stays compact beyond the Muur, the Bosberg probably wouldn't be enough to detonate it, but at the same time there isn't that long march to Gent in which to play cat and mouse.

Line-up pretty stacked, as we'd expect with a WT-anointed race. The selections for #bora and #katusha lack depth, while #astana and #efd have probably never looked as promising as they do this year.

Also looking forward to seeing how competitive guys like Van Aert, Trentin, Laporte, Wellens, Modolo and Matthews can be in this race.

Bold = riders to watch

#worldtour

#bmc Van Avermaet, Roelandts
#ag2r Naesen, Dillier, Gougeard
#astana Cort, Lutsenko, Valgren
#bahrain Colbrelli, Haussler, Garcia Cortina
#bora Oss, Pöstlberger, Burghardt
#efd Vanmarcke, Modolo, Langeveld
#fdj Démare, Hoelgaard, Sinkeldam
#lotto Wellens, Benoot, Keukeleire
#mitchelton Trentin, Durbridge, Hayman
#quickstep Gilbert, Stybar, Gaviria
#didata Boasson Hagen, Vermote, Eisel
#katusha Politt, Planckaert, Biermans
#jumbo Boom, Roosen, Jansen
#sky Van Baarle, Dibben, Doull
#sunweb Matthews, Theuns, Andersen
#trek Stuyven, Nizzolo, Felline
#uae Swift, Marcato, Consonni

#proconti

#cofidis Laporte, Hofstetter, Claeys
#roompot Weening, Gerts, Ligthart
#vlaanderen Van Hecke, Farazijn, Capiot
#fortuneo Gérard, Périchon, Vachon
#willems De Bie, Van Aert, Devolder
#vital Coquard, Vangenechten, De Backer
#wanty Van Keirsbulck, Backaert, Offredo
#wallonie Kirsch, Jules, Vantomme

As for the women's race, perhaps our newly minted correspondent wants to get a bit of practice... :D
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  • « Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 01:54 by Francois the Postman »
    Cycling is a Europe thing only and I only watch from Omloop on cause I am cool and sh*t
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    just some guy

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #1 on: February 20, 2018, 17:33 »
    Next year ..... stupid real life
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  • Of course, if this turns out someday to be the industry standard integrated handlebar-computer-braking solution then I'll eat my kevlar-reinforced aerodynamic hat.

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #2 on: February 20, 2018, 18:05 »
    As for the women's race, perhaps our newly minted correspondent wants to get a bit of practice... :D
    Only saw this now. I have a feeling you sneakily added it to the opening post later ...

    No time to do anything before Friday, and in any case I don't believe in practicing too much. Anyone can become a "Trainingsweltmeister" as we say in German - but what matters is how you perform on the day it matters. :P
    If I feel like it on Friday, I'll do something for the women. If not, not. :)
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    Leadbelly

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #3 on: February 20, 2018, 18:27 »
    https://twitter.com/Cyclingnewsfeed/status/965903368743997440

    He says it's no problem, but I'm writing him off for the win.Quick get down the bookies and put all your money on him!
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  • just some guy

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    t-72

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #5 on: February 20, 2018, 22:01 »
    riders to watch....
    (scroll back and read it yourselves!)

    L'Arri's riders in bold font are the proven favorites, but it's a new season and there should be some new riders coming up on the horizon, placing top-10 or even better. Who's your breakthrough prediction? Mine:
    #bora Lukas Pöstlberger - I think he can do more than winning a giro stage and wearing pink.
    #katusha Nils Politt - endurance no problem, has been towing Kristoff everywhere for two years, but - can he  accelrate?
    #jumbo Amund Grøndal Jansen - now a regular at third or fourth last wagon spot in the Jumbo train, but impressive in long and hard races and although not a typical sprinter, he finishes fast.
    #veranclassic Alex Kirsh - because of last year's most epic cobblestone battle with
    #wanty Guillaume van Keirsbulck - for winning Le Samyn after 33 and 1/3 attack! (waaay better than any race he did with quickstep, but ok...let's call a podium here a re-breakthrough?)
    #cofidis Hugo Hofstaetter as he seems to be surfing on a good wave at the moment, but...cobbles?
    and last but not least
    #verandas Wout van Aert - he might actually be good enough to win a WT race, and why not this one?
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  • Jimmythecuckoo

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #6 on: February 21, 2018, 09:40 »
    Roelandts for sure. Nailed on  :shh :shh :shh
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  • The fens are just West West Flanders really...

    Joelsim

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #7 on: February 21, 2018, 19:56 »
    It wouldn’t surprise me if Colbrelli did well in this.
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  • Trudgin

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #8 on: February 21, 2018, 20:17 »
    It wouldn’t surprise me if Colbrelli did well in this.

    Colbrelli will win.... she says full of confidence
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  • I love Italian cycling, well cyclists & the odd Spaniard, oh & that 1 particular Slovakian  then there are those with names  that are great fun - zzzdnek steeeebar & Tieeeeeeeesj Benoooot

    Servais Knavendish

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #9 on: February 21, 2018, 20:20 »
    Can't wait... Be good to see how GVA and WVA get on
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  • Mellow Velo

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #10 on: February 22, 2018, 11:41 »
     I have everything crossed that the UCI don't have to bring their severe weather protocol into play.
    Sunday especially looks a bit nippy, to say the least.
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  • "Science is a tool for cheaters". An anonymous French PE teacher.

    Joelsim

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #11 on: February 22, 2018, 11:44 »
    I have everything crossed that the UCI don't have to bring their severe weather protocol into play.
    Sunday especially looks a bit nippy, to say the least.

    It just looks cold rather than bad weather. Albeit very cold.
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  • L'arri

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #12 on: February 22, 2018, 13:24 »
    I have everything crossed that the UCI don't have to bring their severe weather protocol into play.
    Sunday especially looks a bit nippy, to say the least.

    The 2013 edition was even colder. Max temp was -6C that day. My sandwiches froze. Very few riders were crazy enough to show skin. If they didn't wear some sort of shades, they ended up with very sore eyes.



    But it stayed dry, despite a savage wind and ice in some of the corners, and that was the important thing. On Saturday it will even be sunny, so I don't see that the Severe Weather Protocol would be applicable. Lovely day in prospect.
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  • Servais Knavendish

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #13 on: February 22, 2018, 13:45 »
    nice throwback to that awful transitional Blanco kit...
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  • L'arri

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #14 on: February 22, 2018, 13:48 »
    nice throwback to that awful transitional Blanco kit...

    Personally I always hated those full fluo tights that Kevin Hulsmans is modelling in that photo for the ill-fated Vini-Fantini team.
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  • Leadbelly

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #15 on: February 22, 2018, 20:31 »
    Who's your breakthrough prediction?

    #katusha Nils Politt

    I like Mr Leprosy too, but as you say I'm not sure he has enough to get a win. A domestique in search of a leader?

    The Jumbo rider I'll be keeping an eye on will be the Irishman Tim O'Roosen. Eighteenth last year and a useful start to the season in Dubai. I'm almost certain it was him who did the great lead out for Groenewegen on stage 1 and then had a podium on Hatta Dam himself.

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  • DJW

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #16 on: February 22, 2018, 21:12 »
    Who's your breakthrough prediction?

    Early season form makes me want to say Devenyns but would love for Jasper de Buyst to get a good result
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  • Joelsim

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #17 on: February 22, 2018, 21:21 »
    Judging by current form Lutsenko could be an outside bet.
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  • L'arri

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #18 on: February 23, 2018, 12:21 »
    Judging by current form Lutsenko could be an outside bet.

    Indeed let's see if Lutsenko has grown wiser. He is very strong but, at least when I've seen him on telly, not the best tactically.
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  • Francois the Postman

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #19 on: February 24, 2018, 01:49 »
    Oi, L'arri!



    O'man, I now know how unsuspecting vampires feel when they approach the first juicy Kapelmuur virgin of the season, brimming with unbridled anticipation after getting a soft-focus glimpse of her throbbing Geraardsbergen, when suddenly the distracting glimmer of a insensitively placed 18pt font-size crucifix causes them to violently jolt back, cobbling their way to safety through the nearest back Muur, averting their eyes in total horror, screaming like a Kirby banshee all the way back to the comfortable pre-season darkness of their Down Under coffins, slamming the lid shut firmly behind them, vowing not to come out until Phil and Paul will finally go away. Which, seemingly, actually requires the patience only the undead can afford.

    Consider your post reported and please present yourself at the nearest Flandrien Retraining Centre at the earliest opportunity.

    Thankfully our knowledgable regulars will immediately spot the glaring gaffe and... oh wait... nevermind :)
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  • « Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 02:20 by Francois the Postman »

    search

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #20 on: February 24, 2018, 07:43 »
    stars!

    *be Het Nieuwsblad

    :*:*:*:*:* van Avermaet
    :*:*:*:* Terpstra, Vanmarcke
    :*:*:* Wellens, Benoot, Stuyven
    :*:* Gilbert, van Baarle, Naesen, Lutsenko
    :* Lampaert, Keukeleire, Theuns, Colbrelli, Trentin
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  • "If this is cycling, I am a banana"

    Blackbandit222

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #21 on: February 24, 2018, 15:54 »
    Wow, when did Astana become a Danish team (Fuglsang, Valgren, Cort, Trainers, DS’s), (feels like new CSC now like new Postal w/ Bruyneel/Armstrong/Contador)

    Astana beat Quick - Step at their own game!  When I saw them gather at the front I said nice move but what are they going to pretend to do. They proved me wrong.

    I thought Valgren was the weakest guy in final group and they were spending him to set up Gatto sprint and Lutsenko counter that thought is what allowed him a 10 sec initial gap.

    Astana off to a great year, time for some drug testing.
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  • Sagan supporter.

    L'arri

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #22 on: February 24, 2018, 16:01 »
    Valgren gets a big win at last. Perhaps the good news will reach as far as the city of Astana and appropriate funds will be pumped down the pipeline to Europe without further delay.

    #astana with three men in the finale rode like a savvy team.

    #lotto wasted big watts letting Wellens and Benoot go off on useless solo moves.

    #quickstep didn't have the numbers in the end with Gaviria unable to stay on over the Bosberg.

    #bmc left Van Avermaet isolated upfront when it mattered most.

    #sky brought a pretty weak team but somehow got a podium out of it.

    A lot of good names rocked up there for the run-in but credit to CX World Champion Wout Van Aert of #crelan for confirming his potential in this domain.
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #23 on: February 24, 2018, 16:51 »
    Wow, when did Astana become a Danish team (Fuglsang, Valgren, Cort, Trainers, DS’s), (feels like new CSC now like new Postal w/ Bruyneel/Armstrong/Contador)
    Fuglsang was the first in 2013, but he was all alone for several years.
    When Tinkoff's team (that used to be CSC) shut down at the end of 2016, Lars Michaelsen signed on as DS with Astana, bringing along Jesper Hansen and Michael Valgren as well as convincing the team to give Matti Breschel a contract too.
    In the autumn of 2017, Magnus Cort signed with the team, and they also hired Fuglsang's coach through many years, Rune Larsen, to take care of a group of riders on the team (obviously including the Danes).

    Also:
    Double Danish win! *dk *dk :win :win :woohoo
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  • search

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #24 on: February 25, 2018, 09:30 »
    it was good to finally see some real cycling on TV again. But to be honest... let's better hope they'll get rid of this new parcours as quickly as possible again
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  • t-72

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #25 on: February 25, 2018, 20:16 »
    Just to close the account here:

    I don't think this counts as breakthrough win, he's been good before  :angel

    it was good to finally see some real cycling on TV again. But to be honest... let's better hope they'll get rid of this new parcours as quickly as possible again
    I saw it likewise. Due to not having a long relation with the sport and especially not a long relation with the spring classics, the Muur van Gerardsbergen is nothing sacred to me. It seems to work like any other Helling that can be a selection point, but it is a bit too much on its own with few other climbs of similar stature around it. The area closer to Kwaremount seems to have more to choose from and provide for a bit more interesting finales.
    I don't mind a bit of "plain sailing" from the last "berg" to the finish line but if there is a long section of "plain sailing" to get to that berg and then "plain sailing" to the finish line, it makes it hard to succeed with long range attacks[1].

    However, more than the parcours, I protest the weather. Omloop is not supposed to be raced under a blue sky, that's kind of Vuelta. It is supposed to be dark, raining and freezing cold. That would make it a different race.

    Yesterday I saw relatively few attacks from the supposedly strong cobbles riders on the cobbles, instead there were more attacks by riders that are stronger on the smoother surfaces, off the cobbles.  Most of the riders that made the race seem more likely to win the Amstel than the Paris-Roubaix,  with only  #efd Sep VanMarcke as the exception.

    #bmc Greg van Avermaet seemed to be lacking punch, or the race was just not hard enough for his endurance to make a difference?
     
    Unlike last year, I am unsure if this race indicates anything at all about what is going to happen later in the more important races.
     1. (except if you are Philippe Gilbert)
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  • AG

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #26 on: February 26, 2018, 05:57 »
    the headwind in the final stretch after the last climb made it hard as riders thought that late efforts would all come back ... so kind of discouraged anything from happening.
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  • L'arri

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #27 on: February 26, 2018, 09:30 »
    The traditional Gent-Gent finale has a much longer run-in than the one to Meerbeke. Except for that one stretch of cobbles whose name escapes me (not the Varent) it's a long, almost unmitigated highway to the finish.

    Certain teams, as far as I was concerned anyway, seem much altered this season. #sky didn't field any serious contenders, #bmc looked rather less organised than usual and #quickstep didn't seem to know who to ride for. In any case, I think the result reflected the numerical superiority of #astana. You make up your own mind how they managed that when no other team could.

    What we have enjoyed in recent years with Gent-Gent is the selection, I think, which was less in evidence this year. As AG mentioned, there was a strong easterly headwind in play, but in fact this was the case for much of the last 100km of racing.

    This set of conditions is quite rare - winds here normally blow on a North-South axis - and can be explained by the current Siberian cold front, which requires a convergence of circumstances to "invade" Western Europe. Solo or small attacks were never going to work in those conditions and so it seemed inevitable that we would see conservative riding and big groups at the end.
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: 73rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
    « Reply #28 on: February 26, 2018, 13:01 »
    it was good to finally see some real cycling on TV again. But to be honest... let's better hope they'll get rid of this new parcours as quickly as possible again
    I saw it likewise. Due to not having a long relation with the sport and especially not a long relation with the spring classics, the Muur van Gerardsbergen is nothing sacred to me.
    Heretics! Burn them! :yuush

    It seems to work like any other Helling that can be a selection point, but it is a bit too much on its own with few other climbs of similar stature around it.
    To be fair, this part is true, though. Muur-Bosberg-Ninove is a fine final - it's the stretch of nothing much at all in the ~20 km before that can make the race a bit dull.
    The problem is that you're moving from the valley of the Schelde (Oudenaarde & surroundings, Koppenberg, Kwaremont etc.) to that of the Dender (Geraardsbergen) - and there tend not to be many leg-breaking climbs on a descent into a valley. :-x
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