Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, previously Omloop Het Volk, is a one-day road cycling race in Belgium, held annually in late February.[1] 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.[2] Since 2017, the race is part of the UCI World Tour, cycling's top-tier professional events.[3][4]

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Race details
DateLate February
RegionFlanders, Belgium
Local name(s)Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Dutch)
Nickname(s)The Omloop
The Opening Classic
CompetitionUCI World Tour
OrganiserFlanders Classics
Race directorWim Van Herreweghe
Web Edit this at Wikidata
Men's history
First edition1945 (1945)
Editions77 (as of 2024)
First winner Jean Bogaerts (BEL)
Most wins Joseph Bruyère (BEL)
 Ernest Sterckx (BEL)
 Peter Van Petegem (BEL)
(3 wins each)
Most recent Jan Tratnik (SVN)
Women's history
First edition2006 (2006)
Editions19 (as of 2024)
First winner Suzanne de Goede (NED)
Most wins Suzanne de Goede (NED)
 Emma Johansson (SWE)
 Anna van der Breggen (NED)
 Annemiek van Vleuten (NED)
(2 wins each)
Most recent Marianne Vos (NED)

The race starts in Ghent, Flanders and finishes in Ninove, Flanders.[5] The race route 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.[6] 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, also starting in Ghent and finishing in Ninove, approximately 130 kilometres in distance. Both events are organized by Flanders Classics.[7]

Tom Boonen at the start of the 2009 event

History edit

Omloop Het Volk edit

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.[a][11] 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.[12][13] 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.[b][14] 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.[3]

Winter race edit

Due to its early-season calendar date, the race has occasionally been affected by cold and wintry conditions.[6] 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.[15][16][17] 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.[c]

Belgian opening race edit

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.[d]

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.

Route edit

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.[18] 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.[6] 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.[18] 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.[19]

Men's winners edit

The following riders have won the race:[20]

Podium of the 2008 Omloop Het Volk: Nick Nuyens, Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd.
Podium of the 2015 event: Niki Terpstra, winner Ian Stannard and Tom Boonen.
2016 podium: Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet and Tiesj Benoot.
Year Country Rider Team
"Omloop van Vlaanderen"
1945   Belgium Jean Bogaerts Alcyon–Dunlop
1946   Belgium André Pieters Alcyon–Dunlop
"Omloop Het Volk"
1947   Belgium Albert Sercu Bertin–Wolber
1948   Belgium Sylvain Grysolle Zircon
1949   Belgium André Declerck Bertin–Wolber
1950   Belgium André Declerck Bertin–Wolber
1951   Belgium Jean Bogaerts Starnord–Wolber
1952   Belgium Ernest Sterckx L'Avenir
1953   Belgium Ernest Sterckx L'Avenir
1954   Belgium Karel De Baere Mercier–BP–Hutchinson
1955   Belgium Lode Anthonis L'Avenir
1956   Belgium Ernest Sterckx L'Avenir
1957   Belgium Norbert Kerckhove Faema–Guerra
1958   Belgium Joseph Planckaert Carpano
1959   Ireland Seamus Elliott Helyett–Fynsec
1960 No race due to disagreement between organisation and UCI
1961   Belgium Arthur De Cabooter Groene Leeuw–Sinalco–SAS
1962   Belgium Robert De Middeleir Wiel's–Groene Leeuw
1963   Belgium René Van Meenen Wiel's–Groene Leeuw
1964   Belgium Frans Melckenbeek Mercier–BP–Hutchinson
1965   Belgium Noël De Pauw Solo–Superia
1966   Netherlands Jo de Roo Televizier–Batavus
1967   Belgium Willy Vekemans Goldor–Gerka
1968   Belgium Herman Van Springel Mann–Grundig
1969   Belgium Roger De Vlaeminck Flandria–De Clerck–Krüger
1970   Belgium Frans Verbeeck Geens–Watney
1971   Belgium Eddy Merckx Molteni
1972   Belgium Frans Verbeeck Watney–Avia
1973   Belgium Eddy Merckx Molteni
1974   Belgium Joseph Bruyère Molteni
1975   Belgium Joseph Bruyère Molteni-RYC
1976   Belgium Willem Peeters IJsboerke–Colnago
1977   Belgium Freddy Maertens Flandria–Velda–Latina Assicurazioni
1978   Belgium Freddy Maertens Flandria–Velda–Lano
1979   Belgium Roger De Vlaeminck Gis Gelati
1980   Belgium Joseph Bruyère Marc-Carlos-V.R.D.
1981   Netherlands Jan Raas TI–Raleigh–Creda
1982   Belgium Alfons De Wolf Vermeer Thijs
1983   Belgium Alfons De Wolf Bianchi–Piaggio
1984   Belgium Eddy Planckaert Panasonic
1985   Belgium Eddy Planckaert Panasonic
1986 No race due to snow
1987   Netherlands Teun van Vliet Panasonic
1988   Belgium Ronny Van Holen Roland
1989   Belgium Etienne De Wilde Histor–Sigma
1990   Belgium Johan Capiot TVM
1991   Germany Andreas Kappes Toshiba–Look
1992   Belgium Johan Capiot TVM–Sanyo
1993   Belgium Wilfried Nelissen Novemail–Histor–Laser Computer
1994   Belgium Wilfried Nelissen Novemail–Histor–Laser Computer
1995   Italy Franco Ballerini Mapei–GB–Latexco
1996   Belgium Tom Steels Mapei–GB
1997   Belgium Peter Van Petegem TVM–Farm Frites
1998   Belgium Peter Van Petegem TVM–Farm Frites
1999   Belgium Frank Vandenbroucke Cofidis
2000   Belgium Johan Museeuw Mapei–Quick-Step
2001   Italy Michele Bartoli Mapei–Quick-Step
2002   Belgium Peter Van Petegem Lotto–Adecco
2003   Belgium Johan Museeuw Quick-Step–Davitamon
2004 No race due to snow
2005   Belgium Nick Nuyens Quick-Step–Innergetic
2006   Belgium Philippe Gilbert Française des Jeux
2007   Italy Filippo Pozzato Liquigas
2008   Belgium Philippe Gilbert Française des Jeux
"Omloop Het Nieuwsblad"
2009   Norway Thor Hushovd Cervélo TestTeam
2010   Spain Juan Antonio Flecha Team Sky
2011   Netherlands Sebastian Langeveld Rabobank
2012   Belgium Sep Vanmarcke Garmin–Barracuda
2013   Italy Luca Paolini Team Katusha
2014   Great Britain Ian Stannard Team Sky
2015   Great Britain Ian Stannard Team Sky
2016   Belgium Greg Van Avermaet BMC Racing Team
2017   Belgium Greg Van Avermaet BMC Racing Team
2018   Denmark Michael Valgren Astana
2019   Czech Republic Zdeněk Štybar Deceuninck–Quick-Step
2020   Belgium Jasper Stuyven Trek–Segafredo
2021   Italy Davide Ballerini Deceuninck–Quick-Step
2022   Belgium Wout van Aert Team Jumbo–Visma
2023   Netherlands Dylan van Baarle Team Jumbo–Visma
2024   Slovenia Jan Tratnik Visma–Lease a Bike

Multiple winners edit

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 country edit

Wins Country
58   Belgium
5   Italy
2   Great Britain
1   Czech Republic

Women edit

Since 2006 there is a women's version of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Held on the same day as the men's event, it uses much of the same roads and equally opens the women's cycling season in Northern Europe. In recent editions the route is 122 km, featuring eight climbs and six sections of cobbles.[21] The race became part of the UCI Women's WorldTour in 2023. As of 2022, Dutch riders Suzanne de Goede, Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten and Sweden's Emma Johansson have won the race twice.

Edition Winner Second Third
"Omloop Het Volk"
2006   Suzanne de Goede   Mirjam Melchers   Tanja Hennes
2007   Mie Lacota   Monica Holler   Jaccolien Wallaard
2008   Kirsten Wild   Angela Brodtka   Emma Johansson
"Omloop Het Nieuwsblad"
2009   Suzanne de Goede   Noemi Cantele   Kelly Druyts
2010   Emma Johansson   Liesbet De Vocht   Grace Verbeke
2011   Emma Johansson   Andrea Bosman   Chantal Blaak
2012   Loes Gunnewijk   Ellen van Dijk   Trixi Worrack
2013   Tiffany Cromwell   Megan Guarnier   Emma Johansson
2014   Amy Pieters   Emma Johansson   Lizzie Armitstead
2015   Anna van der Breggen   Ellen van Dijk   Lizzie Armitstead
2016   Lizzie Armitstead   Chantal Blaak   Tiffany Cromwell
2017   Lucinda Brand   Chantal Blaak   Annemiek van Vleuten
2018   Christina Siggaard   Alexis Ryan   Maria Giulia Confalonieri
2019   Chantal Blaak   Marta Bastianelli   Jip van den Bos
2020   Annemiek van Vleuten   Marta Bastianelli   Floortje Mackaij
2021   Anna van der Breggen   Emma Norsgaard Jørgensen   Amy Pieters
2022   Annemiek van Vleuten   Demi Vollering   Lorena Wiebes
2023   Lotte Kopecky   Lorena Wiebes   Marta Bastianelli
2024   Marianne Vos   Lotte Kopecky   Elisa Longo Borghini

Multiple winners edit

Wins Rider Editions
2   Suzanne de Goede (NED) 2006, 2009
  Emma Johansson (SWE) 2010, 2011
  Anna van der Breggen (NED) 2015, 2021
  Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) 2020, 2022

Wins per country edit

Wins Country
12   Netherlands
2   Denmark
1   Australia
  Great Britain

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad U23 edit

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

Notes edit

  1. ^ 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.[8] The Germans not only allowed and enjoyed the race but helped police the route as well.[9] This led to accusations of collaboration with Nazi Germany.[10]
  2. ^ Het Nieuwsblad, as the bigger newspaper, became the name-bearer of the merge.
  3. ^ UCI had given better calendar dates to other Belgian races, prompting Het Volk to call off the race in protest.
  4. ^ Belgian Walschott had given Coppi his wheel, but rules allowed assistance only from team-mates

References and footnotes edit

  • European Cycling – The 20 Greatest Races by Noel Henderson (1989) ISBN 0-941950-20-4.
  1. ^ "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad". 2023.
  2. ^ Barry, Ryan (26 February 2015). "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad marks coming of Belgian spring. Boonen, Wiggins and Cavendish on show at opening weekend". Cyclingnews. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b "UCI expands WorldTour to 37 events". Cycling News. 2 August 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  4. ^ "The UCI reveals expanded UCI WorldTour calendar for 2017". UCI. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Women's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020 Preview". 25 February 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  6. ^ a b c "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite 2016". Cycling News. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  7. ^ "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Bel) - Cat.1.UWT". (in French).
  8. ^ Bicycling, USA, undated cutting
  9. ^ Konrad, Gabe and Melanie (200), Bikelore, On The Wheel Publications (USA), ISBN 1-892495-32-5, p101
  10. ^ SBR, Stay the Course, Tour de Flanders, April 7th, 2007 by Christophe Vandaele Archived 2016-03-09 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Daily Peloton – Pro Cycling News".
  12. ^ Vanwalleghem, Rik, Het Wonder van Vlaanderen, Pinguin, Belgium, ISBN 90-73322-09-X, p69
  13. ^ Vanwalleghem, Rik, Het Wonder van Vlaanderen, Pinguin, Belgium, ISBN 90-73322-09-X, p72
  14. ^ Haake, Bjorn. "64th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – 1.HC: New name, similar route for Classic opener". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  15. ^ Jones, Jeff. "59th Omloop Het Volk". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  16. ^ Jones, Jeff. "Het Volk cancelled". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  17. ^ Jones, Jeff. "An icy start in Belgium". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  18. ^ a b "Roadmap" (PDF). Flanders Classics. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  19. ^ "Bekijk hier het gewijzigde parcours van de Omloop Het Nieuwsblad". Het Nieuwsblad. Mediahuis. 23 February 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  20. ^ "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad". Cycling Archives. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  21. ^ "Van der Breggen wins women's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad". Cyclingnews. 28 February 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015.

External links edit