The routes of the 2011 Tour of Flanders and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the opening race of the Belgian season, have been changed, with five new hills added to the Flanders route, while the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will cover a new two-kilometre section of cobbles three times.
The Tour of Flanders race organiser Wim Van Herreweghe revealed that the route of the famous one-day Classic held on April 3 will include five more climbs than this year's route.
During the long ride between Brugge and Meerbeke, the following climbs will be added in 2011: the Tiegemberg, the Nokereberg, the Rekelberg, the Kruisberg and the Valkenberg. All of these hills have already featured in the Ronde in previous years but were omitted this year.
Four of the climbs are located before the Oude Kwaremont, which is traditionally the first break-up point of the race. Shortly after, the Valkenberg will replace the Berendries. The rest of the parcours remains unchanged, as the riders will race along the Tenbossestraat to Geraardsbergen, where Fabian Cancellara opened the decisive gap to Tom Boonen this year to set up his first victory at the Tour of Flanders. The Bosberg will again be the 17th and last climb of the race before the finish in Meerbeke.
Omloop gets facelift by Van Petegem
The 2011 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad route has also been revised, with the Haaghoek road in Horebeke the new centre of the race. This two-kilometre long cobblestone section will be tackled three times in next year's race, after race organiser Van Herreweghe conspired with former Classics specialist Peter Van Petegem to design the new route.
The Haaghoek is two kilometres long and flat, but covered in nasty cobblestones. Combined with a new sequence of climbs after it, next year's Omloop may prove to be harder than usual.
"Van Petegem chose the cobblestone trilogy of the Haaghoek, the Leberg and the Molenberg as an introduction to the relatively flat finale, which includes the same amount of 'bad' cobblestone sections as last year," said Van Herreweghe. "We have tried to create a well-balanced course, taking into account that this race will be held on February 26 and not in April, when the peloton is already up to speed."