The Tour of Flanders is inarguably one of the most brutal and demanding of the five monuments, which themselves represent the very pinnacle of one-day bike racing. This year, barring a miracle, ‘the Ronde’ will also be the only cobbled monument of the spring, what with the cancellation (or at the very least, postponement) of Paris-Roubaix all-but-confirmed.
The Tour of Flanders is a race characterised by cobbled sectors and short, sharp climbs – with the ‘bergs’ typically playing a definitive role in the outcome of the race.
The lack of Roubaix the following weekend as a shot at redemption for those that don’t reach their goals in Flanders should provide the perfect spur for the riders to go all-in for the Ronde, which augurs for a truly spectacular race.
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When is Tour of Flanders 2021?
The Ronde will be rolling out of Antwerp on Sunday 4 April.
How to watch the Tour of Flanders
The race will be shown live on Eurosport and on the Eurosport app.
Download the Eurosport app today.
Who is riding Tour of Flanders?
Highlights of a remarkable edition of the men's Tour of Flanders
Defending champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) returns to try and do the double, while last year’s runner-up Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) would dearly love to avenge that agonising loss from last year. The third marquee name is, of course, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck QuickStep), but of all the major one-days in which he has gone up against the Van Twins, this is surely the one where he is at the biggest disadvantage. Flanders typically favours riders with larger frames, as evidenced by the presence of Alex Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe), Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie) and Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal) among the most recent winners. Incidentally, all four of those riders are here again, this year.
Mads Pedersen will be in the mix and you wouldn’t bet against the ex-world champ should the race come down to an elite sprint. His Trek-Segafredo teammate Jasper Stuyven is of course in blistering form after an inspired opportunistic win at Milan-San Remo. That whole team seems to be firing on all cylinders at the moment.
Speaking of Milan-Sanremo, Peter Sagan looked in good nick towards the finale of La Classicissima and was rewarded with a fourth place finish. Since recovering from Covid-19, the Ronde has been the major focus of his rehabilitation. Don’t count Three Pete out just yet.
Alberto Bettiol also returns to the race he won in spectacular solo style two years ago, and he is backed up by EF Education team-mates Michael Valgren, Jens Keukeleire and Jonas Rutsch.
Lastly but not least, there is the Deceuninck squad – it’s not all about Alaphilippe after all. Kasper Asgreen comes in hot off his win in E3, while Florian Senechal s a fast finisher like Pedersen who can deliver wins from reduced kicks. Yves Lampaert might even be in with a shout.
What is the route?
The race route comprises 19 bergs this year, with 17 cobbled sections. The Muur van Geraardsbergen does not feature, unfortunately for fans of neo-baroque architecture. After a flattish and quiet first half, the Oude Kwaremont kicks off the chaos – and features two more times after that. The brutal final sequence of 50 kilometres goes Kwaremont, Stationsberg, Taienberg, Kruisberg, Kwaremont once again and then finally the Paterberg.
After that it’s 14km of pan flat to the finish line – the perfect terrain for a glorious solo ride to the line after a daring attack or for some cat-and-mouse if a group arrives at the top of the Paterberg together.
Who will win Tour of Flanders?
As the defending champ, Mathieu van der Poel comes in among the favourites as per, along with his old pal Wout van Aert. But we’ve also seen from recent racing that Deceuninck have the tools to dismantle the awesome twosome, provided they can get enough of their riders into the finale to overpower them by sheer strength of numbers.
On reflection, this edition could be one for an opportunist attack, while the big favourites watch one another. For that reason, our prediction for an upset win is Søren Kragh Andersen of Team DSM. He came agonisingly close in San Remo. He can go one better.
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