For many cycling enthusiasts, the season starts in Belgium with the running of the Omloop Het Volk. Though there have been races already held in Australia, USA, Italy, and France, it is the semi-classic, this year celebrating its 62nd edition, that really gets the season rolling. Following the Belgian hard-man's race there is Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, and then the big spring Classics, like the Ronde Van Vlaanderen.
The parcours are straight forward and favor a strong sprinter, one who can stand up to the elements that Omloop Het Volk often throw into the mix. The race starts in Gent and ends 200 kilometres later in Lokeren, which is only about 30 kilometres to the east of the start. The parcours, however, offers enough in the form of bergs and cobbled sections to shake loose the weak riders and test the legs of the strong as it winds its way south and back north.
Departing from Gent, the race follows the river Schelde until it hits its first of ten bergs for the day, the Kluisberg. The dangerous sections come after Brakel, with climbs number 7 and 10, the Eikenberg and Molenberg. These sharp affairs are both cobbled and are succeeded by other cobbled sections; so any weak riders that barely make it over the climbs will be faced with a rattling experience trying to keep a hold on the leaders.