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)
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, previously Omloop Het Volk, is a single day cycling race in Belgium. It is the opening event on the Belgian cycling calendar, usually held on the last Saturday in February or the first in March, and holds significant prestige because of it. Due to its early calendar date, it is characterized by often cold weather, coming as a contrast to the early-season stage races in the Middle East or Southern Europe. The race starts and finishes in Ghent, East Flanders, and addresses the Flemish Ardennes in the south of the province, featuring numerous short cobbled climbs, before returning to Ghent. It is organized by Flanders Classics.
First held in 1945, the race was organized by Flemish newspaper Het Volk, in response to rivaling newspaper Het Nieuwsblad’s Classic, the Tour of Flanders. The Omloop, with the start and finish in Ghent, used much of the same roads as 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. When newspaper Het Volk merged with Het Nieuwsblad, the race was renamed Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for the 64th edition in 2009.
Since 2006, a women's edition of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is held on the same day as the men's race, starting and finishing in Ghent, of approximately 130 kilometres distance.
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.
Due to its early-season calendar date, the race has occasionally been affected by cold and wintry conditions. 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.
Three editions of the event were cancelled. The 1986 edition was cancelled because of snow and was not moved to a later date. 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 UCI. The UCI had given better dates to other Belgian races and Het Volk abandoned the race in protest.
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.
Riders is italics are active
|3||Ernest Sterckx (BEL)||1952, 1953, 1956|
|Joseph Bruyère (BEL)||1974, 1975, 1980|
|Peter Van Petegem (BEL)||1997, 1998, 2002|
|2||Jean Bogaerts (BEL)||1945, 1951|
|André Declerck (BEL)||1949, 1950|
|Frans Verbeeck (BEL)||1970, 1972|
|Eddy Merckx (BEL)||1971, 1973|
|Freddy Maertens (BEL)||1977, 1978|
|Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL)||1969, 1979|
|Fons De Wolf (BEL)||1982, 1983|
|Eddy Planckaert (BEL)||1984, 1985|
|Johan Capiot (BEL)||1990, 1992|
|Wilfried Nelissen (BEL)||1993, 1994|
|Johan Museeuw (BEL)||2000, 2003|
|Philippe Gilbert (BEL)||2006, 2008|
|Ian Stannard (GBR)||2014, 2015|
Wins per country
|1||Germany, Ireland, Norway, Spain|
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Women elite
Since 2006 there is a women's version of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Held on the same dy as the men's event, it uses much of the same roads and equally opens the women's cycling season in Northern Europe. In recent editions the route is 122 km, featuring eight climbs and six sections of cobbles. Dutch rider Suzanne de Goede and Sweden's Emma Johansson have won the race twice.
References and footnotes
- European Cycling - The 20 Greatest Races by Noel Henderson (1989) ISBN 0-941950-20-4.
- Barry, Ryan. "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad marks coming of Belgian spring. Boonen, Wiggins and Cavendish on show at opening weekend". Cyclingnews. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- The rules allowed assistance only from team-mates.
- www.cyclingnews.com. Gives details of new route.
- www.sportwereld.be. Gives details of new route.
- "Van der Breggen wins women's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad". Cyclingnews. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
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