Tour of Flanders: Van Avermaet or Sagan?
Bets are being placed on who will cross the finish line first during this Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, as Flemish rider Greg Van Avermaet emerges as a favourite
260km of hills and cobbles
Van Avermaet, from Lokeren, has enjoyed a spectacular patch, with a hat-trick of victories already this year: His Gent-Wevelgem triumph followed on from wins in the E3 Harelbeke and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He insists that he will “race aggressively” and not allow the burden of expectation to inflict on his style.
“I say it every year: I know the roads so well, I train every day on the parcours. And this year I feel like it’s my turn.”
Sagan, however, the so-called “Hulk” from Slovakia, has dominated classics in recent years, including last year’s Tour of Flanders, and has won the points classification in the Tour de France for the last five years.
Others hopefuls on Sunday include Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert (who yesterday sealed victory in the Three Days of De Panne), Norway’s Alexander Kristoff and Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski.
Rain is forecasted for the Flemish Ardennes on both Friday and Saturday, meaning that the cobbles could still be wet by the time the peloton hits them on Sunday afternoon. The race takes in 18 climbs, including the daunting Muur van Geraardsbergen (pictured), which makes a welcome return after a five-year absence.
Photo: John Thys/BELGA
number of times Merckx won the Tour de France
first Tour of Flanders
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