|Local name(s)||Gent–Wevelgem (Dutch)|
|Competition||UCI World Tour|
|Race director||Luc Gheysens|
|Editions||77 (as of 2015)|
|First winner||Gustave Van Bell (BEL)|
|Most wins|| Robert Van Eenaeme (BEL)
Rik Van Looy (BEL)
Eddy Merckx (BEL)
Mario Cipollini (ITA)
Tom Boonen (BEL)
|Most recent||Luca Paolini (ITA)|
The Gent–Wevelgem is a Flanders Classics cycle road race held in Belgium in late March each year. The event was first run in 1934, and it is often called the sprinters' classic due to its flat finishing terrain. Its early-season date means riders are often tested by wind and rain. Further challenges include a number of climbs, including two ascents of the cobbled, and difficult Kemmelberg.
The selectivity of the course means that very few editions of Gent–Wevelgem actually end in a bunch sprint. A small group (including some sprinters) often contest the finish line. In recent years, the race has been situated on the Wednesday between de Tour of Flanders and Paris–Roubaix, and while not officially part of the Vlaamse Wielerweek (Flemish cycling week), it can be seen as an unofficial finale of the series of cycling classics in Flanders.
Despite its name, the race hasn't started in Ghent since 2004, traditionally beginning on the market square of nearby Deinze. The course then sets westward towards the Belgian coastal region, after which it moves southwards near the French border towards the Monteberg and Kemmelberg, before heading towards Wevelgem.
Since 2005 the race has been part of the UCI ProTour, and since 2009, part of the UCI World Ranking calendar. In 2010 the fixed date of the race shifted from the Wednesday after the Tour of Flanders to the Sunday before. The 73rd edition was held on 27 March 2011 and covered 219 kilometres. Since 2012 it has included a women's race.
The first edition was played on 9 September 1934 as a junior race for a distance of 120 km. Its origin is a tribute to Gaston Rebry (a native of Wevelgem) who in that year won the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. After the Second World War, it became a race for professionals, the edition of 29 July 1945 run over a distance of 200 km. and organised, as it is to this day, by the cycling club "Het Wiel Vliegende".
In 1947 the Gent–Wevelgem moved to the "spring classics" time of year and became part of the the Trofee van Vlaanderen (Trophy of Flanders), from 1957–1959, alongside the Omloop Het Volk.
The competition started in 2004, despite the name, not in Ghent but in nearby Deinze. Gent–Wevelgem is the first race toward the coast, which ends must be followed. Near Veurne the winds broke open the game normally. Because of the often strong winds on the flat Flemish roads the race often develop fans. The main obstacle is the Kemmelberg, a difficult climb with cobblestones which must be climbed twice, but equally notorious for its dangerous descent, where many a cyclist dropped. Often is the two-part Monteberg Kemmelberg the breakpoint of the match. Furthermore, the relatively flat trail, which is often in Wevelgem race ends in a sprint of a small group or a larger group.
From the 2008 edition, the route was substantially modified, and the riders no longer go along the coast, but detour along the Steenstraat (Bovekerke-Werken) and then approach Veurne from the polders in place from the direction of the coast. Then comes the hill zone, with the Vidaigneberg, the Rodeberg (Belgium), Monteberg (to the summit and then left), a detour and Kemmelberg approached from the village of Kemmel. The descent is made along a detour to rebuilt the dangerous descent and avoid potential crashes. Then this hill area repeated in the same order and then drive toward Wevelgem. The new trail has been adopted by most riders. Some believed that the launching of the Kemmelberg nervous, but this is according to race director Hans De Clercq normal and part of the course.
In 2010 another major change was made. The date of the race was changed from the Wednesday between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix to the Sunday before the Tour of Flanders. Also, many more slopes were inserted before the Kemmel climb: Scherpenberg, Katsberg, Berthen, Zwarteberg, Baneberg, Rodeberg and then Monteberg and Kemmelberg. The riders climb this series of hills twice before cycling towards the finish in Wevelgem.
It is currently held on the Sunday before the Tour of Flanders, and although not officially part of the Flemish Cycling Week, can be seen as a final unofficial series of classics in Flanders.
The first race was in 1934, and was held for junior riders. The second edition in 1935 (also for juniors) went through the Flemish Ardennes with climbs such as the Kwaremont, Kluisberg and Tiegemberg.
From 1936 to 1939 the race opened to independent amateur riders. It went directly from Ghent and Kortrijk then followed local rounds including the significant Lauwberg.
In 1945, after the Second World War, Ghent-Wevelgem became a race for professionals. A completely new route passed through the Flemish Ardennes to Wevelgem and then looped by the Flemish Heuvelland. The Edelareberg, Hoppenberg, Kwaremont, Zwarteberg (Black Mountain) and Rodeberg (Red Mountain) featured along the way. In 1947 and 1948 the route followed the coast.
From 1949 to 1954 the Flemish Ardennes (Calvarieberg, Kwaremont) returned, followed by the Heuvelland (Rodeberg, Vidaigneberg, Slope of Mesen). In 1955 the Kluisberg and Kemmelberg were added. The road on the Kemmelberg was still unpaved. In 1956 the Eikenberg was included.
In 1957, Tour of Flanders, Omloop Het Volk, and Gent–Wevelgem were raced together, and riders vied for a joint prize, the "Trophy of Flanders". At this time, the Gent–Wevelgem added climbs in French Flanders (Zwarteberg, Catsberg, Wouwenberg, Kasselberg) as precursors to the Kemmelberg. In 1958, these Franco-Flemish climbs were not included: the border crossing meant too many administrative burdens. After the run-up to the coast, the route followed only the Rodeberg, Vidaigneberg and Kemmelberg in the Heuvelland.
In 1960 scheduling conflicts marked the end of the Trophy of Flanders. At this time the lower prestige Gent–Wevelgem placed itself between more famous classics. This year, besides the climbs of Geraardsbergen, Kwaremont, and Kluisberg and Tiegemberg in the Flemish Ardennes, are the Vidaigneberg, Kemmelberg and Slope of Mesen in the Heuvelland.
In 1961 the Gent–Wevelgem implemented a two-day course. The first day of the Ghent and Antwerp to Gent–Wevelgem half days with only slopes in the Heuvelland (Rodeberg, Vidaigneberg, Kemmelberg, Slope of Mesen).
From 1962 to 1976 Gent–Wevelgem was raced via the coast to the Heuvelland, with the Rodeberg, Vidaigneberg and Kemmelberg as fixed venues, sometimes supplemented with Monteberg, Baneberg, Sulferberg, Goeberg, Suikerberg (Sugar Mountain), as well as the climbs of Nieuwkerke, Geluveld, Kraaiberg or Scherpenberg. This also applies to the years 1978 to present. In the period 1993 to 1995, the Franco-Flemish slopes were again inserted, but in 1996 the traditional route was restored. The Flemish Ardennes are not affected because the roots of Gent–Wevelgem and because the riders wanted to keep it.
In 1977 the course changed radically and the Flemish Ardennes was done with 11 significant climbs (including Edelareberg, Kattenberg, Varent, Kluisberg and Tiegemberg). Also in the 1976 Tour of Flanders with the Koppenberg was on the race calendar, while the Steengat climb featured in Gent–Wevelgem.
|1934||Bell, Gustave VanGustave Van Bell (BEL)|
|1935||Depreitre, AlbertAlbert Depreitre (BEL)|
|1936||Eenaeme, Robert VanRobert Van Eenaeme (BEL)|
|1937||Eenaeme, Robert VanRobert Van Eenaeme (BEL)|
|1938||Godart, HubertHubert Godart (BEL)|
|1939||Declerck, AndreAndré Declerck (BEL)|
|1945||Eenaeme, Robert VanRobert Van Eenaeme (BEL)|
|1946||Sterckx, ErnestErnest Sterckx (BEL)||Alcyon|
|1947||Desimpelaere, MauriceMaurice Desimpelaere (BEL)||Alcyon|
|1948||Ollivier, ValereValère Ollivier (BEL)|
|1949||Kint, MarcelMarcel Kint (BEL)|
|1950||Schotte, BriekBriek Schotte (BEL)||Alcyon|
|1951||Rosseel, AndreAndré Rosseel (BEL)|
|1952||Impanis, RaymondRaymond Impanis (BEL)|
|1953||Impanis, RaymondRaymond Impanis (BEL)|
|1954||Graf, RolfRolf Graf (SUI)|
|1955||Schotte, BriekBriek Schotte (BEL)||Alcyon|
|1956||Looy, Rik VanRik Van Looy (BEL)|
|1957||Looy, Rik VanRik Van Looy (BEL)|
|1958||Fore, NoelNoel Fore (BEL)|
|1959||Daele, Léon VanLéon Van Daele (BEL)|
|1960||Aerenhouts, FransFrans Aerenhouts (BEL)|
|1961||Aerenhouts, FransFrans Aerenhouts (BEL)|
|1962||Looy, Rik VanRik Van Looy (BEL)|
|1963||Beheyt, BenoniBenoni Beheyt (BEL)|
|1964||Anquetil, JacquesJacques Anquetil (FRA)|
|1965||Pauw, Noel DeNoel De Pauw (BEL)|
|1966||Springel, Herman VanHerman Van Springel (BEL)|
|1967||Merckx, EddyEddy Merckx (BEL)||Peugeot|
|1968||Godefroot, WalterWalter Godefroot (BEL)|
|1969||Vekemans, WillyWilly Vekemans (BEL)|
|1970||Merckx, EddyEddy Merckx (BEL)||Faema|
|1971||Pintens, GeorgesGeorges Pintens (BEL)|
|1972||Swerts, RogerRoger Swerts (BEL)|
|1973||Merckx, EddyEddy Merckx (BEL)||Molteni|
|1974||Hoban, BarryBarry Hoban (GBR)|
|1975||Maertens, FreddyFreddy Maertens (BEL)||Flandria-Carpenter|
|1976||Maertens, FreddyFreddy Maertens (BEL)||Flandria-Carpenter|
|1977||Hinault, BernardBernard Hinault (FRA)||Gitane-Campagnolo|
|1978||Haute, Ferdi Van DenFerdi Van Den Haute (BEL)|
|1979||Moser, FrancescoFrancesco Moser (ITA)||Sanson|
|1980||Lubberding, HenkHenk Lubberding (NED)||TI-Raleigh|
|1981||Raas, JanJan Raas (NED)||TI-Raleigh|
|1982||Hoste, FrankFrank Hoste (BEL)||TI-Raleigh|
|1983||Vliet, Leo vanLeo van Vliet (NED)||TI-Raleigh|
|1984||Bontempi, GuidoGuido Bontempi (ITA)||Carrera-Inoxpran|
|1985||Vanderaerden, EricEric Vanderaerden (BEL)||Panasonic|
|1986||Bontempi, GuidoGuido Bontempi (ITA)||Carrera-Inoxpran|
|1987||Vliet, Teun vanTeun van Vliet (NED)||Panasonic|
|1988||Kelly, SeanSean Kelly (IRL)||Kas|
|1989||Solleveld, GerritGerrit Solleveld (NED)||Superconfex-Yoko|
|1990||Frison, HermanHerman Frison (BEL)||Histor-Sigma|
|1991||Abdoujaparov, DjamolidineDjamolidine Abdoujaparov (URS)||Carrera Jeans-Tassoni|
|1992||Cipollini, MarioMario Cipollini (ITA)||GB-MG|
|1993||Cipollini, MarioMario Cipollini (ITA)||GB-MG|
|1994||Peeters, WilfriedWilfried Peeters (BEL)||GB-MG|
|1995||Michaelsen, LarsLars Michaelsen (DEN)||Festina-Lotus|
|1996||Steels, TomTom Steels (BEL)||Mapei-GB|
|1997||Gaumont, PhilippePhilippe Gaumont (FRA)||Cofidis|
|1998||Vandenbroucke, FrankFrank Vandenbroucke (BEL)||Mapei-Bricobi|
|1999||Steels, TomTom Steels (BEL)||Mapei-Quick Step|
|2000||Bondt, Geert VanGeert Van Bondt (BEL)||Farm Frites|
|2001||Hincapie, GeorgeGeorge Hincapie (USA)||US Postal|
|2002||Cipollini, MarioMario Cipollini (ITA)||Acqua e Sapone-Cantina Tollo|
|2003||Klier, AndreasAndreas Klier (GER)||Team Telekom|
|2004||Boonen, TomTom Boonen (BEL)||Quick Step-Davitamon|
|2005||Mattan, NicoNico Mattan (BEL)||Davitamon-Lotto|
|2006||Hushovd, ThorThor Hushovd (NOR)||Crédit Agricole|
|2007||Burghardt, MarcusMarcus Burghardt (GER)||T-Mobile Team|
|2008||Freire, OscarÓscar Freire (ESP)||Rabobank|
|2009||Hagen, Edvald BoassonEdvald Boasson Hagen (NOR)||Team Columbia-High Road|
|2010||Eisel, BernhardBernhard Eisel (AUT)||Team HTC-Columbia|
|2011||Boonen, TomTom Boonen (BEL)||Quick Step|
|2012||Boonen, TomTom Boonen (BEL)||Omega Pharma-Quick Step|
|2013||Sagan, PeterPeter Sagan (SVK)||Cannondale|
|2014||Degenkolb, JohnJohn Degenkolb (GER)||Giant-Shimano|
|2015||Paolini, LucaLuca Paolini (ITA)||Team Katusha|
Riders in italic are still active
|3||Robert Van Eenaeme||Belgium||1936, 1937, 1945|
|Rik Van Looy||Belgium||1956, 1957, 1962|
|Eddy Merckx||Belgium||1967, 1970, 1973|
|Mario Cipollini||Italy||1992, 1993, 2002|
|Tom Boonen||Belgium||2004, 2011, 2012|
|2||Raymond Impanis||Belgium||1952, 1953|
|Briek Schotte||Belgium||1950, 1955|
|Frans Aerenhouts||Belgium||1960, 1961|
|Freddy Maertens||Belgium||1975, 1976|
|Guido Bontempi||Italy||1984, 1986|
|Tom Steels||Belgium||1996, 1999|
Wins per country
The Gent–Wevelgem women's race was held for the first time in 2012, on the same day as the men's race but over a shorter course of 114 km. The inaugural women's race was won by Lizzie Armitstead, of Team AA Drink/leontien.nl, after a 40-km solo breakaway.
|2012||Armitstead, LizzieLizzie Armitstead (GBR)||AA Drink-leontien.nl|
|2013||Wild, KirstenKirsten Wild (NED)||Team Argos-Shimano|
|2014||Hall, LaurenLauren Hall (USA)||Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|2015||Mackaij, FloortjeFloortje Mackaij (NED)||Team Liv-Plantur|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gent-Wevelgem.|