Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
|Local name(s)||Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (flemish)|
|Competition||UCI Europe Tour|
|First edition||Men: 1945
|Editions||Men: 70 (as of 2015)
Women: 10 (as of 2015)
|First winner||Men: Jean Bogaerts (BEL)
Women: Suzanne de Goede (NED)
Suzanne de Goede (NED)
Emma Johansson (SWE)
|Most recent||Men: Ian Stannard (GBR)
Women: Anna van der Breggen (NED)
The race was first held in 1945, organised by the newspaper Het Volk in response to Het Nieuwsblad’s Classic Tour of Flanders. The Omloop, with the start and finish in Ghent, uses many of the climbs in the Tour of Flanders, and is for that reason often used in preparation for the bigger event.
The race was known as Omloop Het Volk until 2008. The newspaper Het Volk stopped publishing in 2008 and was taken over by Het Nieuwsblad, as a result of which the race was renamed to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for the 64th edition in 2009.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is the opening event on the Belgian cycling calendar and is usually held on the last Saturday in February or the first in March. It is characterised by cold weather and short cobbled climbs and comes as a contrast to the training camps of the Italian Riviera or the south of France.
Since 2006, a women's edition of the race of approximately 130 kilometres distance has also been held.
The race has been affected by snow. The organizers rely on weather forecasts and adjust the course if the cobbled climbs are deemed unsafe. Snow fell the night before the 1955, 1974 and 1988 races but they were still run. The 1971 race was postponed due to snow and run three weeks later on Thursday 26 March when the GP Pino Cerami moved to another date. There was a thaw on the afternoon of the original date and the following day's Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne went ahead.
The 1986 edition was cancelled because of snow. It was not run later.
In 2004 race organiser Wim Van Herreweghe said: "The safety of the riders could not be guaranteed, the snow and freezing cold made the route too dangerous." The race was cancelled.
The 1960 race was also cancelled but due to a disagreement between the organisers and ruling body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). The UCI had given better dates to other Belgian races and Het Volk abandoned the race in protest.
Belgians have dominated the race, aided by large, supportive crowds, and comfortable with cobbles and the cold. In 68 editions, there have been only five winners from outside northern Europe: Italians Franco Ballerini, Michele Bartoli, Filippo Pozzato, Luca Paolini, and Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha. Another Italian, Fausto Coppi won in 1948 but was disqualified for taking a wheel from the Belgian Walschott, who was not of his team.
The record for wins is three, held by Joseph Bruyère (1974, 1975 and 1980), Ernest Sterckx (1952, 1953 and 1956) and Peter van Petegem (1997, 1998 and 2002). Bruyère has the fastest speed (43.35 km/h) for 1975.
Other winners include Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens and Johan Museeuw. Dutchman Jan Raas won in 1981 after finishing second in 1977, third in 1978, second in 1979 and fourth in 1980.
In 2008 the race finished in Ghent with 11 climbs and 16 km of cobbles in 199 km The start is outside Ghent's Museum of Contemporary Art, the first 70 km is flat before 40 km including five short, sharp climbs and one cobbled sector. Another flat part is followed by 55 km which includes the cobbled sectors of Donderij and Hof ter Fiennestraat and the climbs of the Oud Kruisberg, Taaienberg, Eikenberg and the Wolvenberg. The Molenberg is the final climb 39 km from the finish and this short climb which averages almost 10% in gradient can be the launching point for a winning break. The race finishes in the centre of Ghent on the thoroughfare of Charles de Kerchovelaan in front of the Citadelpark.
Winners by nationality
|# of Victories||Country|
References and footnotes
- European Cycling - The 20 Greatest Races by Noel Henderson (1989) ISBN 0-941950-20-4.
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