Big battle looming for the “Race across Flanders” Dwars door Vlaanderen • Words by John Wilcockson with images from Chris Auld


Wednesday, March 31, 2021
[MEN] Start: Roeselare. Finish: Waregem. Distance: 184 km.
[WOMEN] Start & finish: Waregem. Distance: 122 km.

Itinerary.

HISTORY

First held in 1945, this race was called Dwars door België (“Across Belgium”) for its first 55 years, and was contested as a two-day for most of it first 20 editions. With its rebirth as the Dwars door Vlaanderen (“Across Flanders”) in 2000, what was regarded as a secondary classic gradually gained international resonance. That progress has continued. It joined the UCI Europe Tour in 2005, attained the status of an “above category” event in 2013, and was elevated to the UCI WorldTour in 2017. Throughout its history, the race has finished in Waregem, a town of 38,000 between Kortrijk and Ghent. The most prestigious winners in the latter years of last century were Jan Raas, Eric Vanderaerden and Johan Museeuw—men who also won the Tour of Flanders. With the race’s growing stature, the list of winners has become more international with victories by Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen (2003), Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel (2008), Italian Oscar Gatto (2013) and Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel (2019). A women’s edition was added in 2012.

Men’s course.
Men’s profile.
Women’s course.
Women’s profile.

COURSE

Taking place four days before the Tour of Flanders, the Dwars Door Vlaanderen has a similar course, but at 184 kilometers is 70 kilometers shorter than the monument. Starting from Roeselare, the opening section is flat, passing through the finish town of Waregem (where the women’s race starts) before reaching the first climb, the Kruisberg, after 72 kilometers. The course then loops through the Flemish Ardennes before heading north to the finish. These final 30 kilometers feature two sections of cobblestones and three climbs, including the cobbled 500-meter-long Nokereberg 11 kilometers from Waregem. The women’s race has an identical finale but only 10 climbs, rather than 13 for the men.

JOHN’S PREDICTIONS

Although the race sometimes ends in a mass sprint, as in 2016, the win is usually contested by a small breakaway group. If that’s the case this year, look to past protagonists Mathieu van der Poel, Sep Vanmarcke and Yves Lampaert to be in the mix. In the women’s race, Ellen van Dijk will be seeking her hat-trick against the likes of Lucinda Brand.

RECENT MEN’S PODIUMS

2016 1. Jens Debusschere (B); 2. Bryan Coquard (F); 3. Edward Theuns (B).
2017 1. Yves Lampaert (B); 2. Philippe Gilbert (B); 3. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz).
2018 1. Yves Lampaert (B); 2. Mike Teunissen (B); 3. Sep Vanmarcke (B).
2019 1. Mathieu van der Poel (Nl); 2. Anthony Turgis (F); 3. Bob Jungels (Lux).
2020 Canceled due to Covid-19 restrictions.

RECENT WOMEN’S PODIUMS

2016 1. Amy Pieters (Nl); 2. Jolien D’hoore (B); 3. Christina Siggard (Dk).
2017 1. Lotta Lepistö (Fin); 2. Gracie Elvin (Aus); 3. Lisa Brennauer (G).
2018 1. Ellen van Dijk (Nl); 2. Pieters; 3. Floortje Mackaij (Nl).
2019 1. Ellen Van Dijk (Nl); 2. Marta Bastianelli (I); 3. Lucinda Brand (Nl).
2020 Canceled due to Covid-19 restrictions.