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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, previously Omloop Het Volk, is a one-day road cycling race in Belgium, held annually in late February. It is the opening event of the Belgian cycling season, as well as the first race of the year in Northwestern Europe, and holds significant prestige because of it.[1] Since 2017, the race is part of the UCI World Tour, cycling's top-tier professional events.[2][3]

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Tom Boonen 28-02-2009 11-29-17.JPG
Tom Boonen at the start of the 2009 event
DateLate February
RegionFlanders, Belgium
Local name(s)Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Dutch)
Nickname(s)The Omloop
The Opening Classic
DisciplineRoad
CompetitionUCI World Tour
TypeOne-day
Race directorWim Van Herreweghe
Web sitewww.omloophetnieuwsblad.be/en Edit this at Wikidata
First edition1945 (1945)
Editions74 (as of 2019)[a]
First winner Jean Bogaerts (BEL)
Most wins Joseph Bruyère (BEL)
 Ernest Sterckx (BEL)
 Peter Van Petegem (BEL)
(3 wins)
Most recent Zdeněk Štybar (CZ)
First edition2006 (2006)
Editions14 (as of 2019)
First winner Suzanne de Goede (NED)
Most wins Suzanne de Goede (NED)
 Emma Johansson (SWE)
(2 wins)
Most recent Chantal Blaak (NED)

The race starts and finishes in Ghent, Flanders, and covers the hills in the Flemish Ardennes, marking the start of the cobbled classics season in Europe. Due to its early calendar date, it is characterized by often cold weather, coming as a contrast to the early-season stage races in the Middle East and Southern Europe.[4] The day after the Omloop, Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne completes the opening weekend.

Since 2006, a women's edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is held on the same day as the men's race, starting and finishing in the same location, approximately 130 kilometres in distance. Both events are organized by Flanders Classics.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Omloop Het VolkEdit

First held in 1945, the race was called Omloop van Vlaanderen ("Circuit of Flanders"). The event was initiated by Flemish newspaper Het Volk, in response to rivaling newspaper Het Nieuwsblad’s classic, the Tour of Flanders. Het Volk, of left-leaning publication, wanted to start a new cycling event in Flanders as a rival race to what it saw as the Tour of Flanders' closeness to the Nazis during World War II.[b][8] The Ronde's organizers protested that the name was too close to their own – there is little semantic difference between "Ronde" and "Omloop". The Belgian cycling federation demanded Het Volk to change the name of the event, prompting Het Volk to serve as title sponsor of their own race.[9][10] In 2009 the former rival newspapers Het Volk and Het Nieuwsblad merged, causing the event to be renamed Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for its 64th edition.[c][11] Until 2016, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was ranked as a 1.HC event of the UCI Europe Tour; since 2017, it is included in the UCI World Tour.[2]

Winter raceEdit

Due to its early-season calendar date, the race has occasionally been affected by cold and wintry conditions.[4] Three editions of the event were cancelled. The 1971 race was postponed due to snow and run three weeks later. In 1986 and 2004 organizers were forced to cancel the race, as snow and freezing temperatures had made the route too dangerous and riders' safety could not be guaranteed.[12][13][14] In modern times, organizers rely heavily on weather forecasts and adjust the course if some sectors are deemed unsafe. Unrelated to the weather, the 1960 race was cancelled following a disagreement between the organizers and cycling's ruling body UCI.[d]

Belgian opening raceEdit

Traditionally the opening event of the Belgian cycling season, the race holds particular importance for Belgian cyclists. Throughout its history, Belgian riders, comfortable with cold weather and aided by large, supportive crowds, have dominated the race. Belgians have won 56 editions, although, exemplary for the growing international status of the race, they have only won four of the last ten editions. In 1948 Italian cycling icon Fausto Coppi won the race, but was disqualified for receiving an illegal wheel-change.[e]

The record for wins is three, shared by Joseph Bruyère, Ernest Sterckx and Peter van Petegem. Bruyère holds the fastest average (43.35 km/h) for his 1975 win. Other notable winners include Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens, Johan Museeuw, Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd.

RouteEdit

 
Route of the 2015 edition

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad starts in Ghent, East Flanders, and addresses the Flemish Ardennes in the south of the province, featuring numerous short climbs, before returning to Ghent.[15] From 1996 until 2007 the finish was in Lokeren, 20 km east of Ghent.

At 200 kilometres and with 13 climbs in the hill zone, the course is challenging and arduous. Additionally, there are several flat stretches of cobbles.[4] Despite annual changes, some of the regular climbs in the Omloop are the Leberg, Berendries, Taaienberg, Muur van Geraardsbergen, Eikenberg and Molenberg. Due to its hilly course in the Flemish Ardennes, the race is similar in nature to the Tour of Flanders, and is often used in preparation for the bigger event five weeks later. The 2016 race featured one new climb, Boembekeberg, as a replacement for the Molenberg, which was skipped because of road works.[15] This was reversed for the 2017 race.

Both the official start and finish are traditionally on Ghent's largest square, Sint-Pietersplein. Every seven years however, when Easter comes early in the year, the square is booked for the annual Mid-Lent fair and organizers need to find different locations. In 2016 and 2017, the Citadel city park, next to the Kuipke velodrome, served as start location. The finish was on the Emile Clauslaan thoroughfare, near the starting place.[16]

Men's winnersEdit

The following riders have won the race:[17]

 
Podium of the 2015 event: Niki Terpstra, winner Ian Stannard and Tom Boonen.
Rider Team
1945   Jean Bogaerts (BEL) Alcyon-Dunlop
1946   André Pieters (BEL) Alcyon-Dunlop
1947   Albert Sercu (BEL) Bertin-Wolber
1948   Sylvain Grysolle (BEL) Zircon
1949   André Declerck (BEL) Bertin-Wolber
1950   André Declerck (BEL) Bertin-Wolber
1951   Jean Bogaerts (BEL) Starnord-Wolber
1952   Ernest Sterckx (BEL) L'Avenir
1953   Ernest Sterckx (BEL) L'Avenir
1954   Karel De Baere (BEL) Mercier-BP-Hutchinson
1955   Lode Anthonis (BEL) L'Avenir
1956   Ernest Sterckx (BEL) L'Avenir
1957   Norbert Kerckhove (BEL) Faema-Guerra
1958   Joseph Planckaert (BEL) Carpano
1959   Seamus Elliott (IRL) Helyett-Fynsec
1960 No race
1961   Arthur De Cabooter (BEL) Groene Leeuw-Sinalco-SAS
1962   Robert De Middeleir (BEL) Wiel's-Groene Leeuw
1963   René Van Meenen (BEL) Wiel's-Groene Leeuw
1964   Frans Melckenbeek (BEL) Mercier-BP-Hutchinson
1965   Noël De Pauw (BEL) Solo-Superia
1966   Jo de Roo (NED) Televizier-Batavus
1967   Willy Vekemans (BEL) Goldor-Gerka
1968   Herman Van Springel (BEL) Mann-Grundig
1969   Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL) Flandria–De Clerck–Krüger
1970   Frans Verbeeck (BEL) Geens-Watney
1971   Eddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni
1972   Frans Verbeeck (BEL) Watney-Avia
1973   Eddy Merckx (BEL) Molteni
1974   Joseph Bruyère (BEL) Molteni
1975   Joseph Bruyère (BEL) Molteni-RYC
1976   Willem Peeters (BEL) Ijsboerke-Colnago
1977   Freddy Maertens (BEL) Flandria–Velda–Latina Assicurazioni
1978   Freddy Maertens (BEL) Flandria–Velda–Lano
1979   Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL) Gis Gelati
1980   Joseph Bruyère (BEL) Marc-Carlos-V.R.D.
1981   Jan Raas (NED) TI–Raleigh–Creda
1982   Alfons De Wolf (BEL) Vermeer Thijs
1983   Alfons De Wolf (BEL) Bianchi-Piaggio
1984   Eddy Planckaert (BEL) Panasonic
1985   Eddy Planckaert (BEL) Panasonic
1986 No race due to snow
1987   Teun van Vliet (NED) Panasonic
1988   Ronny Van Holen (BEL) Roland
1989   Etienne De Wilde (BEL) Histor-Sigma
1990   Johan Capiot (BEL) TVM
1991   Andreas Kappes (GER) Toshiba-Look
1992   Johan Capiot (BEL) TVM–Sanyo
1993   Wilfried Nelissen (BEL) Novemail-Histor
1994   Wilfried Nelissen (BEL) Novemail-Histor
1995   Franco Ballerini (ITA) Mapei–GB–Latexco
1996   Tom Steels (BEL) Mapei–GB
1997   Peter Van Petegem (BEL) TVM–Farm Frites
1998   Peter Van Petegem (BEL) TVM–Farm Frites
1999   Frank Vandenbroucke (BEL) Cofidis
2000   Johan Museeuw (BEL) Mapei–Quick-Step
2001   Michele Bartoli (ITA) Mapei–Quick-Step
2002   Peter Van Petegem (BEL) Lotto–Adecco
2003   Johan Museeuw (BEL) Quick-Step–Davitamon
2004 No race due to snow
2005   Nick Nuyens (BEL) Quick-Step–Innergetic
2006   Philippe Gilbert (BEL) Française des Jeux
2007   Filippo Pozzato (ITA) Liquigas
2008   Philippe Gilbert (BEL) Française des Jeux
2009   Thor Hushovd (NOR) Cervélo TestTeam
2010   Juan Antonio Flecha (ESP) Team Sky
2011   Sebastian Langeveld (NED) Rabobank
2012   Sep Vanmarcke (BEL) Garmin–Barracuda
2013   Luca Paolini (ITA) Team Katusha
2014   Ian Stannard (GBR) Team Sky
2015   Ian Stannard (GBR) Team Sky
2016   Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) BMC Racing Team
2017   Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) BMC Racing Team
2018   Michael Valgren (DEN) Astana
2019   Zdeněk Štybar (CZ) Deceuninck–Quick-Step

Multiple winnersEdit

Riders in italics are active

Wins Rider Editions
3   Ernest Sterckx (BEL) 1952, 1953, 1956
  Joseph Bruyère (BEL) 1974, 1975, 1980
  Peter Van Petegem (BEL) 1997, 1998, 2002
2   Jean Bogaerts (BEL) 1945, 1951
  André Declerck (BEL) 1949, 1950
  Frans Verbeeck (BEL) 1970, 1972
  Eddy Merckx (BEL) 1971, 1973
  Freddy Maertens (BEL) 1977, 1978
  Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL) 1969, 1979
  Fons De Wolf (BEL) 1982, 1983
  Eddy Planckaert (BEL) 1984, 1985
  Johan Capiot (BEL) 1990, 1992
  Wilfried Nelissen (BEL) 1993, 1994
  Johan Museeuw (BEL) 2000, 2003
  Philippe Gilbert (BEL) 2006, 2008
  Ian Stannard (GBR) 2014, 2015
  Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) 2016, 2017

Wins per countryEdit

[a]

Wins Country
56   Belgium
4   Italy
  Netherlands
2   United Kingdom
1   Denmark
  Germany
  Ireland
  Norway
  Spain
  Czech Republic

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Women eliteEdit

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad U23Edit

An edition of the race for under-23 men has been held since 1950.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b Only 70 editions of the race have been run, with two runnings cancelled due to snow.
  2. ^ The Tour of Flanders is the only cycling classic in Europe that was organized on German-occupied territory during the Second World War and in full agreement with the German command.[5] The Germans not only allowed and enjoyed the race but helped police the route as well.[6] This led to accusations of collaboration with Nazi Germany.[7]
  3. ^ Het Nieuwsblad, as the bigger newspaper, became the name-bearer of the merge.
  4. ^ UCI had given better calendar dates to other Belgian races, prompting Het Volk to call off the race in protest.
  5. ^ Belgian Walschott had given Coppi his wheel, but rules allowed assistance only from team-mates

References and footnotesEdit

  • European Cycling - The 20 Greatest Races by Noel Henderson (1989) ISBN 0-941950-20-4.
  1. ^ Barry, Ryan. "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad marks coming of Belgian spring. Boonen, Wiggins and Cavendish on show at opening weekend". Cyclingnews. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b "UCI expands WorldTour to 37 events". Cycling News. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  3. ^ "The UCI reveals expanded UCI WorldTour calendar for 2017". UCI. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite 2016". Cycling News. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  5. ^ Bicycling, USA, undated cutting
  6. ^ Konrad, Gabe and Melanie (200), Bikelore, On The Wheel Publications (USA), ISBN 1-892495-32-5, p101
  7. ^ SBR, Stay the Course, Tour de Flanders, April 7th, 2007 by Christophe Vandaele Archived 2016-03-09 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Daily Peloton - Pro Cycling News". dailypeloton.com.
  9. ^ Vanwalleghem, Rik, Het Wonder van Vlaanderen, Pinguin, Belgium, ISBN 90-73322-09-X, p69
  10. ^ Vanwalleghem, Rik, Het Wonder van Vlaanderen, Pinguin, Belgium, ISBN 90-73322-09-X, p72
  11. ^ Haake, Bjorn. "64th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - 1.HC: New name, similar route for Classic opener". cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  12. ^ Jones, Jeff. "59th Omloop Het Volk". cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  13. ^ Jones, Jeff. "Het Volk cancelled". cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  14. ^ Jones, Jeff. "An icy start in Belgium". cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Roadmap" (PDF). omloophetnieuwsblad.be. Flanders Classics. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Bekijk hier het gewijzigde parcours van de Omloop Het Nieuwsblad". Het Nieuwsblad. Mediahuis. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  17. ^ "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad". Cycling Archives. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Van der Breggen wins women's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad". Cyclingnews. Retrieved 12 December 2015.

External linksEdit