Oudenaarde wins Ronde van Vlaanderen finish
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Oudenaarde wins Ronde van Vlaanderen finish

by Ben Atkins at 10:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
‘Vlaanderens Mooiste’ to finish with hilly and cobbled circuit; Muur-Kapelmuur completely overlooked

nick nuyensAfter a year-long decision-making process Flanders Classics, the owner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, has decided to award the finish of northern Belgium’s biggest one-day race to the city of Oudenaarde. The race, known as ‘Vlaanderens Mooiste’ (Flanders’ most beautiful), has finished in Meerbeke, on the outskirts of Ninove, since 1973 and so the new location will mean an entirely different complexion to the end of the 98-year-old Classic.

The 39th and final edition to finish on the iconic uphill 'Halsesteenweg' was won by Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard), with the women's race won by Annemiek van Vleuten (Nederland Bloeit).

Meerbeke applied to continue hosting the finish, as did the city of Ronse – the venue of the 1963 and 1988 World championships – but Oudenaarde was chosen becuase of its superior infrastructure; it is also the location of the Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen, museum and visitors centre.

The familiar finish in Meerbeke has been based on the final climbs of the Muur-Kapelmuur and the Bosberg in Geraardsebergen, with both proving the springboard for successful bids for victory over the years. Moving the finish to Oudenaarde though, which sits nestled among the hills that have traditionally featured in the mid-part of the race, means a drastic change to the course.

Instead of the long run to the finish, which was only punctuated by the occasional climb, the final 75km of the new course looks to be far more demanding. It will be built around three laps of a circuit, based on the climbs of the Oude Kwaremont, the Paterberg, the Koppenberg and the Kruisberg, with two sections of cobbles, before the final flat 14km to Oudenaarde.

This circuit finish, Flanders Classics hopes, will make the finish of the course more accessible to fans at the side of the road, who will be able to watch the race several times without having to move.

One of the fears of those against the move was that the Muur would lose its near-mythical status in Flemish cycling, and even be passed over entirely; their worst fears have been realised with the new course avoiding the Geraardsebergen area completely.

Ronde van Vlaanderen ‘Hellingen’ 2012
1, Nokereberg 88km
2. Taaienberg 111km
3. Eikenberg 117km
4. Molenberg 133km
5. Rekelberg 148km
6. Berendries 153km
7. Valkenberg 158km
8. Oude Kwaremont 180km
9. Paterberg 184km
10. Koppenberg 191km
11. Steenbeekdries 194km
12. Kruisberg/Hotond 205km
13. Oude Kwaremont 217km
14. Paterberg 220km
15. Hoogberg/Hotond 227km
16. Oude Kwaremont 237km
17. Paterberg 240km

Ronde van Vlaanderen ‘Kasseien’ (cobbles) 2012
1. Huisepontweg 93km
2. Doorn 96km
3. Holleweg 119km
4. Ruiterstraat 121km
5. Kerkgate 124km
5. Jagerij 127km
7. Paddestraat 137km
8. Mariaborrestraat 193km
9. Donderij 196km


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