The organisers of the Gent-Wevelgem classic announced the final route for the 2010 edition today, rolling out a 219km course with 16 short, sharp climbs in the final half of the race. The race will take place on March 28.
The total distance is some 40km shy of what had been planned when the race was moved from its previous mid-week position between the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix to the current weekend slot after Milano-Sanremo.
The decision was made by race organisers after consulting with the International Cycling Union and Flanders Classics, which owns and organises the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
"Since 2010 is a transitional year and given the calendar for 2010, we decided to shorten the race. That in the interest of the riders, and pending a final solution in 2011," the organisers said, according to the Belga news agency.
In past years, the race has been between 204 and 215 kilometres in length, but after the move from the mid-week position between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, the organisation had planned to increase the length to 257km in order to attract more riders who are preparing for the Ronde van Vlaanderen, keeping the finale the same but adding in more cobbled sectors and climbs in the middle.
The final parcours, while reduced in length from the earlier ambitions, will make some significant changes to the course from previous years - cutting out 13km between Diksmuide and Veurne by taking a more direct route, and extending the section toward the end of the race to increase the number of bergs from the two trips up the Kemmelberg to 16 climbs in total.
"There is a loop in France, with a double passage of Mont des Cats and Mont Noir. In total there are only 16 climbs, making the second ascent of the Kemmelberg even more important.”
Previously the domain of sprinters, the new, more difficult finale could shift the dynamic more to the favor of the tough men of the Classics.