The finale of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad has been altered for 2019 but the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg will remain the final two climbs on the route. The race will now finish in Ninove, while the Molenberg will play a more important strategic role after being placed closer to the finish.
The 2018 edition of Omloop saw the finish line move from its traditional location in Ghent to Meerbeke, which hosted the finish of the Tour of Flanders until 2011. Race organiser Flanders Classics has now decided to shift the finish line to neighbouring Ninove, citing logistical reasons.
"We’re doing it for the public," Wim Van Herreweghe of Flanders Classics told Het Nieuwsblad. "An evaluation was made with the municipality of Ninove after the 2018 edition. We’re hope for an even better experience in the centre of Ninove. There is more catering and more surrounding space, so it will benefit the event."
As in recent seasons, the race will start in Ghent, with riders assembling to sign on at ‘t Kuipke velodrome. The major changes to the course introduced this year will remain in place for 2019. The elite men will again tackle the combination of the cobbles of Haaghoek and the climb of the Leberg on three occasions, while the Muur and Bosberg once more feature as the final obstacles on the parcours.
Among the principal alterations on the 2019 route will be the position of the Molenberg. In 2018, the cobbled climb featured some 52km from the finish line. This time around, it will come with 40km remaining, as was typically the case on the old Tour of Flanders parcours. The Omloop peloton will tackle the cobbles at Mater prior to climbing the Molenberg.
The climbs of the Valkenberg and Ten Bosse – where Johan Museeuw attacked to win the 1998 Tour of Flanders – will not feature in the finale of the Omloop route in 2019. Instead, the peloton will scale the Elverenberg between the Berendries and the Muur.
While Flanders Classics described the redrawn men's finale as “not heavier, but more balanced,” the elite women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is set to be more difficult in 2019, with ten climbs and five cobbled stretches on the parcours. This year's edition of the women's race was 122km with seven climbs and three cobblestone sectors.
As per tradition, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will start the Belgian road season on Saturday, March 2, with Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne taking place the following day.