The premiere opening of the Flemish classics season will be Saturday 2 March with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Good news is that the presentation and entire race will be live-streamed on Proximus Sports Facebook page!!!
We’re lining up with Alice Barnes, Hannah Barnes, in-form Elena Cecchini, last year’s second place-getter Alexis Ryan, Kasia Niewiadoma, and former winner Tiffany Cromwell.
“It’s an exciting race. For me this race holds a special place in my heart as it was one of the first big victories that I had in my career and I’ve had a number of good results over the years at this race.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad signifies the beginning of the spring classics. It can be a race with many different outcomes, from opportunistic breakaways to reduced bunch sprints. We can be battling arctic weather conditions or pleasant spring weather: You just never know what you’re going to end up with. Over the last couple of years the parcours has become more challenging and I think in 2019 we’re going to see an even more exciting race.
I think this year the key moment will come on the Muur/Bosberg climb combination. It’s the old final of Flanders and the Muur in particular has always been a decisive point for winning moves to be made, especially when it sits in the final part of the race,” said Tiffany.
The opener to the Flemish classics is eagerly awaited from riders as much as it is the fans. Last year’s edition with its rather new-look course, was won in a 40-rider bunch sprint by Christina Siggaard, with Ryan finishing second. This year’s edition changes again. Although the Muur-Bosberg climb combination near the finish remains, the course now has ten climbs (three more than last year) and five cobblestone sections (two more than last year).
“Last year the wind played a factor. It made it difficult to get away towards the end due to the head wind and it ended in a bunch kick. With the Muur and Bosberg towards the end and if the wind is different it could make the final very aggressive and interesting,” Alice Barnes.
What the riders say:
Alexis Ryan: “Without the prestige of a World Tour race, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad remains an elusive dark horse. For most riders it is their first race back after a long winter of training–a reintroduction to suffering. The parcours resemble a mini Flanders. Those at the pointy end of this race can take away confidence for a successful spring.”
“The Muur looms ominously close to the finish and is the last chance for a solo or small break to go up the road. Those experiencing the rubber band effect at the back of the peloton will surely see the band snap.”
Elena Cecchini: “Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is tough, iconic, challenging, and in favour of brave decisions.”
Hannah Barnes: “I would love to be aggressive and not hold back. I want to be proud of how I raced and to be able to take confidence going into the next races.”
Alice Barnes “Being the first classic of the year there is always a lot of excitement around the race and some uncertainty as to how everyone will be going into it. This is my fourth year doing this race and one that I love to start with to see where my form is at.”
Kasia Niewiadoma: “OHN always reminds me of a big battle with lots of nerves and stress! Everyone wants to be in the front before cobbles sections or punchy hills so that means you have to be focused 100% from the start until the end! The race can be won by anyone: a sprinter or a climber can win. It’s extremely unpredictable. You just have to be good enough and know how to race smartly those cobbles and hills.”
Watch from 11:00CET on Proximus Sports
Race start 11:43CET, approx. finish 15:19CET
122.9km from Gent to Ninove, Belgium