Ronde van Vlaanderen: October 18th, 2020

Now that Roubaix is cancelled there's only one monument left this year: the 104th Tour of Flanders. Because of the corona restrictions this will be a "limited edition", not the traditional popular celebration. Spectators are not allowed in the start and finish zone, nor on the hills and the cobbled sectors. Along the rest of the course mouth masks are obligatory. The organizers ask the fans to watch the race at home.

The course will be 244 km, which is 23 km shorter than last year. It still contains seventeen hills, although the Muur van Geraardsbergen is left out. The start will again be in Antwerp, not on the market place, but at Het Steen, a medieval fortress. The weather forecast predicts another dry edition. There's a lot to look forward to. Who can make the difference on the climbs? What role will the rivalry between some of the favourites play? Which outsiders will anticipate? Will it be a solo or a sprint? All these questions will be answered in this big confrontation on Sunday.





Climbs:
  1. Kattenberg (143 km)
  2. Oude Kwaremont (123 km)
  3. Kortekeer (113 km)
  4. Eikenberg (106 km)
  5. Wolvenberg (103 km)
  6. Leberg (94 km)
  7. Berendries (90 km)
  8. Valkenberg (84 km)
  9. Kanarieberg (71 km)
  10. Oude Kwaremont (55 km)
  11. Paterberg (51 km)
  12. Koppenberg (45 km)
  13. Steenbeekdries (40 km)
  14. Taaienberg (37 km)
  15. Kruisberg (27 km)
  16. Oude Kwaremont (17 km)
  17. Paterberg (13 km)
Flat cobbled sections:
  1. Lippenhovestraat (160 km)
  2. Paddestraat (158 km)
  3. Holleweg (105 km)
  4. Haaghoek (100 km)
  5. Mariaborrestraat (41 km)
Recent winners:
2010 Fabian Cancellara
2011 Nick Nuyens
2012 Tom Boonen
2013 Fabian Cancellara
2014 Fabian Cancellara
2015 Alexander Kristoff
2016 Peter Sagan
2017 Philippe Gilbert
2018 Niki Terpstra
2019 Alberto Bettiol
2020 ???

Three-time winners: Achiel Buysse, Fiorenzo Magni, Eric Leman, Johan Museeuw, Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara.

The women's race is 135 km long. It contains ten climbs: Achterbergstraat, Leberg, Berendries, Ten Bosse, Muur van Geraardsbergen, Kanarieberg, Taaienberg, Kruisberg/Hotond, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. Then it's 13.3 km to the finish in Oudenaarde. Once again they will put the hammer down!

Recent winners (women):
2010 Grace Verbeke
2011 Annemiek van Vleuten
2012 Judith Arndt
2013 Marianne Vos
2014 Ellen van Dijk
2015 Elisa Longo Borghini
2016 Lizzie Armitstead
2017 Coryn Rivera
2018 Anna van der Breggen
2019 Marta Bastianelli
2020 ???
 
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Can see a scenario similar to last year where the big favourites mark each other out of contention and a good outsider rides away prior to the final Kwaremont proving to be stronger than the others had expected.

I think Wout Van Aert is the strongest but Maximilian Schachmann is my outsider tip.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
Ugh, they moved the start time even earlier—I’ll need to get before 5:00am (U.S. west coast) just to catch the last hr of racing. I will watch a replay that evening that really enjoy watching live. On the other hand, will be happy to have this race to watch and enjoy.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
My heart bleeds not seeing GVA on the list of previous winners. And it won't happen this year either.

It's a lost chance, because the rivalry between the top favourites could give the green light to others. Wonder how far Vanmarcke, Naesen and Benoot can get. And which Wolfpack lieutenant can profit from Alaphilippe's presence.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
My heart bleeds not seeing GVA on the list of previous winners. And it won't happen this year either.

It's a lost chance, because the rivalry between the top favourites could give the green light to others. Wonder how far Vanmarcke, Naesen and Benoot can get. And which Wolfpack lieutenant can profit from Alaphilippe's presence.
Really any outsider can profit this year frm the rivalry.. but.. on the other hand if the top favorites keep going berserk from 60km to go, there isn't any coming back on flat parts like GW. It will be 1vs1vs1
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
For the first time in I don't know how many years I feel like DQS has very little chance of winning this race.
Even if Van der Poel and Van Aert mark each other, I think there are a few riders with a better shot.
Lampaert and Senechal have never performed here, while Stybar and Asgreen don't look in great shape. Alaphilippe is obviously a champion but he has never ridden De Ronde. I'm not even sure he has finished a cobble classic in the past 5 years.

So yeah, DQS will most likely win the race.
 
Romain Bardet finds his panache and wins his first monument. World Champion and the wild bunch will make the mistake of watching each other. Mads Pedersen pips John Degenkolb in a sprint for the podium places. Mark Cavendish finishes the race and cries when an interviewer asks is this your last race? He answers yes and leaves. Next day they announce his contract renewal for 2021.
 
I think Pedersen could absolutely profit from the Van Aert - Van de Poel rivalry again but I still see the two as the favorites. Also quite often the tactics of the favorites for the Ronde often reflect what they did wrong in the preperation races. In this case that would mean Van Aert and VdP get their *** together and work together before going at each other late in the race.

Also really curious what Alaphilippe can do. If he starts performing on cobbles he could be another case who might start dreaming of the monument slam.
 
Reactions: Pantani_lives
I gave him a star. But from all the guys listed, the only one he might be able to beat in a sprint is Benoot. Maybe. And he isn't going to drop those others on the climbs either.
Okay, it's the weird star layout which is confusing. Lampaert isn't beating many others in a sprint either, looked in lacklustre shape Sunday, and has never really been close to winning a monument, yet you give him three stars.
 
I gave him a star. But from all the guys listed, the only one he might be able to beat in a sprint is Benoot. Maybe. And he isn't going to drop those others on the climbs either.
EF have a strong team so he might get a sneaky win if he attacks at the right moment and his team-mates disrupt the chase.

And while he wouldn't be a favourite in a sprint against most of these guys, it's not like his sprint is completely useless. At the end of a monument it's not always that obvious i.e. Boonen losing to Hayman in PR or Sagan losing to non-sprinters a couple of times in MSR.

But I don't think he will win anyways. He didn't look that strong in BinckBank and GW. It doesn't look like a breakthrough year for him. Not sure if I would rate his chances lower than Degenkolb, though. :p
 
Okay, it's the weird star layout which is confusing. Lampaert isn't beating many others in a sprint either, looked in lacklustre shape Sunday, and has never really been close to winning a monument, yet you give him three stars.
Lampaert closed a gap to the favorites, solo, after the last climb. He might not be as good as Bettiol, or Pedersen or van der Poel... which is why he gets less stars. And he's much faster than you think. He could possibly beat Bettiol, Küng, Benoot, Van Marcke, Teuns, Andersen in a sprint, maybe even Sénéchal depending on the race. Basically any rider who never won a bunch sprint.

He has one of the favourites as his teammate, so he might pull a Devolder.
EF have a strong team so he might get a sneaky win if he attacks at the right moment and his team-mates disrupt the chase.
Surely that's not a reason to give him more stars, or we could start handing out stars to domestiques of top riders every race. Then all Quick-Step riders should get more stars as well, or Stuyven, even Teunissen could then get a star.
 
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