Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields 2021 looks set to be an intriguing contest, with a parcours that follows the established pattern of ‘cobbles, with a likely sprint’. As such, it’s the perfect battleground for the likes of Wout van Aert, Mads Pedersen and Tim Merlier.
It is also the perfect means to tune-up one's form ahead of the year’s second monument, the Ronde Van Vlanderen, which takes place next weekend.
When is the 2021 Gent-Wevelgem?
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For many, the spring hasn’t truly sprung until Gent-Wevelgem, and so it’s fitting that the race comes at the end of March this year. The race begins on Sunday March 28 and will roll out of Ypres below the Menin Gate.
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How to watch the race
Gent-Wevelgem will be live on Eurosport. Watch the race live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and eurosport.co.uk from 12:30 GMT.
Who is riding?
Wout van Aert must surely come into this race as favourite, backed by a strong Jumbo Visma team and in characteristically omnipotent form. He is fresh – although this is perhaps the wrong word – from the Tirreno-Adriatico, where he rode for GC and came an admirable second to Tadej Pogačar, and last weekend’s Milan-San Remo where he placed third, the fastest in the field sprint behind eventual winner Jasper Stuyven and second-placed Soren Kragh Andersen.
Speaking of Stuyven, the man they call ‘The Chocolatier from Flanders’ is going to be in action for Trek-Segafredo once again. The American team comes with two likely leaders, in the form of Stuyven and 2019 world champ, Mads Pedersen. They are the form team of the year so far, and confidence will be sky high in the camp – to say nothing of the fact Pedersen is the defending champion.
Arnaud Démare (Groupama FDJ) and Sam Bennett (Deceuninck QuickStep) are also expected to ride. Both are closer to being ‘pure sprinters’ than rugged classics men, so it will be intriguing to see how they each fare in a field stacked with large Belgian lads who eat cobbles for breakfast. Deceuninck naturally come with multiple options, with Senechal, Ballerini, Stybar and Lampaert all capable of delivering a W.
AG2R bring Oliver Naesen and ‘Golden’ Greg Avermaet, neither of whom have hit their best level yet this year. And speaking of not being at ones best, Peter Sagan – who looked like 2021 was going to be an annus horribilis just a few weeks ago – now appears to be close to the form that saw him win Wevelgem three times between 2013 and 2018. His fourth at Milan-Sanremo is a very encouraging sign for the Bora Hansgrohe man, who is intending to peak for the Ronde in a week’s time.
What is the route?
We don’t know much about the exact route this year, due to the organisers, Flanders Classics, playing their cards very close to the chest. To discourage fans from gathering at the roadside, the actual route has been kept hush-hush, but these things don’t vary very much from one year to the next, so it’s a safe bet to say we’ll probably see the peloton taking on the classic combination of the Rodeberg, Monteberg and Kemmelberg, before a flattish run-in to the finish line.
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