The Ronde returns to its roots

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step)

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) (Image credit: Elmar Krings)

Organisers of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) have announced a route just shy of 260 kilometres for the race's 2009 edition that adds seven kilometres of cobbled roads when compared with the 2008 event. The course will pass through the heart of Gent, the city which hosted the start of the race during its first 63 years, then heads east through Wetteren, which hosted the finish early in the race's history.

The 93rd edition of the race will begin in Brugge for the 12th year and keep the modern finish in Meerbeke. While the race has just 16 climbs, down one from this year's race, all of the climbs are concentrated in the second half of the race, adding to the difficulty of the finale.

The first 24.4 kilometres of the race will be familiar to riders who entered last year's edition, but the race will quickly diverge eastward toward Gent rather than heading south through Kortrijk.

The course then heads south toward the race's first 'berg', the Molenberg at kilometre 130 – the halfway point in the race. Last year's opening hills, the Kluisberg and Nokereberg, which came at the 99km and 118km mark have been omitted due to the northerly approach.

The race will then pick up familiar roads, taking in the Wolvenberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg before sending riders up the fearsome climb of the Koppenberg – a 600m ascent that kicks up to 22% grades – with 72 kilometres still left to race. The Steenbeekdries and Taaienberg remain, while the Berg Ter Stene is replaced by the Eikenberg and Varent climbs.

The race will then follow a similar route over the Leberg, Berendries, Valkenberg and Tenbosse before cresting the Eikenmolen – the site of Stijn Devolder's race winning attack before reaching the final two climbs, the Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg.

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