Dwars door Vlaanderen final preparation before Flanders
While some of the biggest names are sitting this race out to save their legs for the big showdown of Flanders this weekend, that’s actually all the more reason to watch Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday
Without the likes of van Aert, van Der Poel, and Pogacar lining up on the men’s side, and no Kopecky or van Vleuten on the women’s side, the race might actually end up being more exciting since the final podium feels like less of a foregone conclusion.
The men’s start at 8:10 a.m. EDT and the women’s showdown kicks off at 9:50 a.m. EDT.
The course will pack many punches in to form of climbs in what organizers have dubbed the “hill zone” in the middle of the race. The men’s course includes eleven climbs and eight cobbled sections, and clocks in at 184K. The women's course features eight climbs and seven sectors for a total of 115K.
One of the greatest cyclists of all time, Marianne Vos, will be lining up at the start. Vos has only recently returned to racing after an off-season surgery for iliac artery endofibrosis, and while her team has said her recovery is going well, she experienced severe leg cramping in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda a few weeks ago and finished in 20th place.
Likewise, we’re also in no way discounting superstar Tom Pidcock, who is back on the bike after having to sit out Milan-San Remo due to a concussion he sustained after crashing out with Wout van Aert in the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.
The bulk of the 183.7km Dwars door Vlaanderen route is in the hilly Flemish Ardennes. Throughout the day, the peloton will face a challenging course which includes eight sections of cobbles and eleven climbs, similar to those they will tackle a few days later in the Tour of Flanders.
The race kicks off in Roeselare and the first section of pavé comes after 51.7km on the Varentstraat, While riders will be required to fight for positions before this sector, it isn’t a particularly challenging stretch of road compared to other cobbled sections on the route. Most of the action comes in the middle section of the race; the riders will hit the first climb of the day, the Volkegemberg, after 67km of racing and then head straight into a cobbled section on the Holleweg.
After a small period of respite, the climbs then start to come thick and fast with a trio of bergs in succession: the Hotond, Knokteberg-Trieu and Kortekeer, followed quickly by the cobbles of Maria Borrestraat. Next, the riders face the tough climbs of the Berg Ten Houte and Kanarieberg before looping back around to tackle the Knokteberg-Trieu/Hotond combination of climbs again, albeit in a different order. The Maria Borrestraat cobbled section is also included in the route for a second time before the climb of Ladeuze which closes out the hilliest section of the race.
There are two sections of pavé before the true final climb of the day, the Nokereberg, which is 350 metres long and could serve as a springboard for attacks. After that, the riders begin the finishing circuit around Waregem which includes 800m of cobbles over the Herlegemstraat on each of the two laps, as well as the Nokere climb. In the 2022 edition of the race, the winning attack which included the likes of Mathieu van der Poel, Tiesj Benoot, Tom Pidcock, Ben Turner and Stefan Küng was ignited with 70km of the race remaining. The group worked well together until an explosive, attacking finale which saw Van der Poel reign supreme.