Axel May 07:50, 02 April 2023

It is one of the monuments of the cycling calendar: the Tour of Flanders takes place this Sunday. The start will be given at 10 am from the Grote Markt in Bruges. This Belgian classic is a true local institution.

The Tour of Flanders, "De Ronde" as they say here, is as much a sporting event as it is festive. A kind of giant fair with its hundreds of thousands of spectators massing along the course. They could be a million in total this Sunday. So, when you ask race director Wim Van Herreweghe, what makes the event special, the answer is: "It's the public! Everyone in Flanders follows the Tour, not just cycling fans. It's a national holiday!"

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The public has its favorite places to see the peloton pass: the cobbled mountains that have made the reputation of this cycling classic. "It's a mixture of mountains, cobblestones, small roads," says Alain Deloeuil, sporting director of the northern team Cofidis. It's an atypical race, really apart, with its passages in the Old Quaremont that often makes the difference."

The cobbled mountains and the crazy atmosphere

After more than 250 kilometers in the legs, the Vieux Quaremont, followed by another renowned cobbled mountain, the Paterberg, should once again be where the race will end, before the finish in the city of Oudenaarde around 16:30.

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If the Belgian Van Aert, the Dutchman van der Poel and the Slovenian Pogacar are the favorites, the French spectators will hope that Julian Alaphilippe will find the punch, the explosiveness, the passion, which allowed him to be double world champion. Unless Valentin Madouas, 3rd last year, pulls up the end of his handlebars...