Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne – Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

By @EchelonsHub

Second round of the opening weekend, after today Omloop delivered an exciting start to the cobbled classics season. In Kuurne, the route is much more sprinter friendly, however there is a habit of seeing solo winners in these roads, as the course allows for a very open race.

The Route

195 make for a slightly shorter race, however one that doesn’t feature much of a flat start. From the 30 kilometer mark riders will start to go up and down and will ride by two of the main towns in Flandres, Oudenaarde and Ronse (not Bruxelles, as the race name would indicate, funnily).

It will be between these two towns that the race will blow up. It’s a race that isn’t as much focused on cobbled sectors but rather in a sequence of hills, and the place where attacks will come is towards their end.

In the profile above you see Hameau des Papins (1.2Km at 6.4%, 93Km to go), Le Bourliquet (1.3Km at 6.3%, 84.5Km to go), Mont Saint Laurent (1.3Km at 7%, 79.5Km to go), Oude Kruisberg (1.3Km at 5%, 70Km to go) and Côte du Trieu (1.2Km at 7.2%, 61.5Km to go). This is the section where differences have to be made, albeit a few more pitches later on allowing attacks. The final of these climbs finished with over 60 kilometers to go but for those who can’t afford taking the race into a sprint they have to not only make differences but split the groups completely so as to have better chances of avoiding a peloton coming from behind.

For those eyeing a sprint, they will have over an hour to reacess, organize a chase and catch whoever will be at the head of the race (attacks are inevitable). The last cobbled sector comes with 35Km to go at the Beerbosstraat but going solo at this point is very much suicide, in most races that is! Here in Kuurne everything is possible.

The peloton rolls along pan-flat roads for the final 25 kilometers, riding through the finish line once before emerging into the town center for the final time, these roads are fast but they are easy to make for an organized chase, so it should be as always a close balance between the attackers and the sprinter’s teams.

The Weather

A slight breeze from the southeast. This will be beneficial for those looking to attack the hills as they will have cross/tail and tailwinds back into Kuurne. Not strong wind, but definitely a help, and something that will make groups harder to reel in.

The Attackers

This is a race that will have very interesting dynamics as every year. Although missing the Oude Kwaremont, it still features a set of very complicated bergs which will split the peloton and some teams have no option but to attack that section of the race hard if they want to be within a shot of winning the race, or at the very least improve their chances. There have been some riders who have been very lively today like Stefan Kung, INEOS duo Tom Pidcock and Jhonatan Narvaez and AG2R duo of Greg van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen who will all realistically be eyeing another offensive day in order to have chances of preventing a bunch sprint at the end.

Others who have not looked as sharp but nevertheless present a great threat are Jasper Stuyven, Anthony Turgis and UAE duo of Matteo Trentin and Alessandro Covi who are likely to be in the thick of it in the climbs.

The Sprinters

The teams that will be looking for a sprint though have 50 kilometers to organize themselves and put on a chase on whoever is in front by the time the riders get over the Kluisberg. Some sprinters will struggle and loose too much time, but it is actually frequent that most will get through and go on to have a shot at the race win at the end. The startlist features the likes of Fabio Jakobsen, Caleb Ewan and Tim Merlier who are between the very best in the business and whose teams are guaranteed to be working for, with Quick-Step surely having the cards to cover attacks and deorganize the offensive by other teams.

The list does not stop there though as many fast men have looked towards this race with ambition and will be motivated. Some have been in action and very well today like Sonny Colbrelli who will be having Phil Bauhaus as another possibility within the team, or for example Andrea Pasqualon who got over the climbs, and will have Alexander Kristoff as the team leader here.

Then you have Jumbo-Visma who come with Christophe Laporte, David Dekker and Mike Teunissen who are all realistically contenders, Giacomo Nizzolo leading Israel – Premier Tech, Bryan Coquard for Cofidis, Jordi Meeus for BORA, Alex Aranburu for Movistar, Timothy Dupont for Bingoal and the duo of Amaury Capiot and Dan McLay for Arkéa Samsic.

Inside The Bus

This morning I talk to… (provisional numbers provided by organization, rider numbers may change)

#157 Tobias Andresen – You’re going in for the experience Tobias, no need to enter the race with the stress levels high as we don’t have high expectations and we’re bringing a lot of you young guys in to learn how racing in the classics works. For as long as you can, keep a close eye out on John as he’ll be our leader, try to stay near the front, observe what the leaders do whilst trying to be as helpful as possible.

#85 Szymon Sajnok – It won’t be an easy day out Szymon but we are hoping you can get through the climbs. You’ve got a good sprint, Bryan and Max will be our priorities, however if you make it through you are within a shot of a top result so make sure you give it your all to make it through the bergs in a group near the front, from there on just ride wheels until the finish, it’s your best chance.

#46 Taco van der Hoorn – Taco we have Alexander for today and Andrea who’s riding really well so the priority is to have a sprint at the finish. So even if you feel you have the legs, don’t go all-out if you see they’re being dropped. A peloton will form after the climb that’s inevitable, ideally you will not work but stay in the wheel as teams with more responsibility put in the work, and you can try an attack in the final kilometers where you may be able to surprise. If things are too fast, and of course if we have you guys in the peloton, we can absolutely form a leadout and try to get that win with the big man.

Prediction Time

⭐⭐⭐Jakobsen, Ewan, Merlier

⭐⭐Cobrelli, Coquard, GV.Avermaet

⭐Kristoff, Pasqualon, Laporte, Nizzolo, Meeus, Capiot, Stuyven, Turgis, Narvaez, O.Naesen, Kung

Foto: Getty Images

I think Quick-Step will be able to control the race and bring it all back to a sprint, and judging on recent form I have no doubt Fabio Jakobsen is the man to beat here.

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Rúben Silva

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