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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - Live coverage

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. It’s the start of Opening Weekend and to some of our readers out there, the start of the European racing season.

We have live text coverage throughout the day and we’re about an hour away from the official start of the race. We’ve gone electric so our CN blimp is charging up nicely, while we have our very own Brecht Decaluwe on the start line in Gent as we can see a few teams start to arrive. Sign on will start in about 15 minutes or so with teams just going through their final briefings and mechanics about to start setting up bikes and fine-tuning any last requests or changes from the riders.

Ahead of the riders, we have 201km from Gent to Ninove, with 9 sectors of cobbles and 13 climbs in total. The race organisers have been sensible and decided not to publish the route well in advance but ascents like the Bosberg (that’s today’s final climb), the Leburg and the Muur-Kapelmuur all feature today. One of my favourite climbs, the Berendries, where Rolf Sorensen dropped Laurent Jalabert on his way to winning the 1997 edition of the Tour of Flanders is also in the route.

The first climb of the day though is Leberg, which features three times today. The first ascent comes at kilometer 49 but by then we should have our early break and the race should be relatively settled.

Some early news from Belgium.

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The battles on the climbs today will form only one part of the action though, because it’s the competitive race into the foot of the ascents where the real battles begin. In a sense those battles are more important than what happens on the climbs – at least in the first half of the race – because riders will not want give up position or lose ground early on.

We can see our first riders starting to peak their heads out of team buses. We need David Attenborough narrating at this point.

“The young begin to show interest as they venture out. They start to squeak and we’re able to have a little chat and with every step they begin to find their confidence.”

Back to the route and the key section will as ever be the final 50km as we’ve got climbs 7-13 crammed within those kilometers. The final climb comes around 13km from the finish though, so there’s always the chance of a break going away and surviving to the line. Last year’s winner Jasper Stuyven is on the start line and he wears number one. He’s a major favourtie for the win again today and he lines up with his partner in crime and former world champion Mads Pedersen.

DE PANNE BELGIUM OCTOBER 21 Jasper Stuyven of Belgium and Team Trek Segafredo during the 44th Driedaagse Brugge De Panne 2020 Men Classic a 2026km race from Brugge to De Panne AG3daagse on October 21 2020 in De Panne Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

We actually spoke to the Dane on Thursday, and here’s what he had to say about the Opening Weekend and Classics racing in general really.

WEVELGEM BELGIUM OCTOBER 11 Mads Pedersen of Denmark and Team Trek Segafredo Toms Skujins of Latvia and Team Trek Segafredo during the 82nd GentWevelgem In Flanders Fields 2020 Men Elite a 2325km race from Ypres to Wevelgem GentWevelgem FlandersClassic on October 11 2020 in Wevelgem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Ah you’re probably wondering where we are with live for UAE today. Alas it’s not on our programme and we’re instead turning all our attention to Opening Weekend. We will, however post as many updates as we came from the Middle East, and we’ll have a full report and results from the final stage. Stay tuned.

Teams have started to sign on and we're about 35 minutes from the official start.

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Don’t forget you can stream the event right here.

You just need to set up a VPN, or download a subscription from one of the major broadcasters. 

There's a women's Omloop today too. We'll keep you updated on the action, and we'll have a complete race report, news, photos, results and analysis later on today. Meanwhile, check out our interview with Emilia Fahlin. She's had a tough couple of years but is a model pro and personifies dedication and hard work. Click here

Swedish road race champion Emilia Fahlin (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope on the attack at the 2019 Tour of Flanders

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Brecht Decaluwe has just radioed in having spoken to Sep Vanmarcke. We're in the CN blimp and up and running but what did Sep say, Brecht (over)?

Sep Vanmarcke: "I hope to have a good day. It's been a while. I want to ride the finale. In previous years the light went out too soon. The crowd is missed here."

CN: Brecht, say over. Over.

Brecht: ...

Our official start list for today’s race is right here too

Road race world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

More from Brecht Decaluwe, our man on the ground in Gent this morning. He spoke to Jasper Philipsen.

"Emirates trip was't a big success. We got the win but lost two riders and covered many days traveling." 

It's a big chance for the Belgian (Philipsen, not Brecht) today.

We’ll start pottering through some of the teams as we build up to the race but we’ve got some news coming out shortly, along with an exclusive interview with Yves Lambaert.

It's cold and foggy this morning in Gent, and riders are in jackets and thermals as a few more head to the sign, are presented to the media, and then slowly freewheel back to the team bus for one last coffee. 

A bit of a plug here for our Owain Doull interview. He was second in Kuurne a couple of years ago and with Ian Stannard retiring, Luke Rowe in UAE and Dylan van Baarle not her, the Welshman has added responsibility today. We spoke to him on Thursday about the Classics, his development and a very difficult 2020. Story is here.

Tour de la Provence 2020 - 5th Edition - 4th stage Avignon - Aix-en-Provence 170,5 km - 16/02/2020 - Owain Doull (GBR - Team Ineos) - Matthias Brandle (AUT - Israel Start-Up Nation) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2020

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Away from Opening Weekend, the biggest news story surrounds Quinn Simmons. Trek Segafredo suspended him last year due to his actions on social media that the team described as "divisive, incendiary, and detrimental". Suspension over and CN were invited to a roundtable with Velonews, Gazzetta and Simmons. Here's what the rider had to say.

Back to Belgium and Brecht Decaluwe has spoken to last year's winner:

"To me the team is just as strong as last year. The competition is different but we're among the strong teams. I've got a scenario in my mind. Much depends on the wind in the finale."

We also have this lovely photo gallery of riders out on recon ahead of today’s race. View as your leisure.

We've also listed our top-10 riders to watch for today's men's race. Just click here.

And here's our feature on the top contenders for the women's race.

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