Tour of Flanders forecast: Cold, wind, and possible rain puts peloton on edge
Mads Pedersen bracing for tricky conditions: 'The Koppenberg will be the big deal. It’s important to go into Koppenberg in a good position.'
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Cold, wind, and rain is putting the peloton on edge for Sunday at the men’s and women’s editions of the 2023 Tour of Flanders.
Heavy overnight showers Saturday are expected to clear by morning, but the threat of rain across the afternoon Sunday means the peloton is bracing for rough racing conditions for the Flandrien classic.
Forecasters are calling for cool temperatures of about 6C (42F) for the start and warming only to 9C (48F).
Northerly winds are expected across the afternoon between 15 to 22kph (about 9 to 12mph), meaning there will be head/crosswinds on the road back to Oudenaarde after the final Oude Kwaremont/Paterberg double.
Rain is expected to taper off by morning, but there is still a 10 to 20 percent chance of afternoon showers Sunday.
Rain hit the estimated 16,000 fans riding the Flanders Classics gran fondo, and it continued to rain steadily into Saturday night.
That will make for damp racing conditions, especially on the decisive climbing sectors.
The Flanders cobbles are not as rough as what the racers face next week at Paris-Roubaix, but the most decisive sectors are contested on climbs.
And everyone knows that in the wet, climbs like the Koppenberg, the Paterberg, and Oude Kwaremont can turn even more treacherous.
“I think right now the big deal will be the Koppenberg,” said Trek Segafredo’s Mads Pedersen on Saturday. “The rest of the climbs are normally OK. They’re used to rain and then dry up quite fast, but the Koppenberg is covered by trees and it makes it quite slippery always, even if it’s been dry for two weeks.
“It’s really important to go into Koppenberg in a good position, and I mean first three to five riders, no further back. I think we have very good tires to make it over and I never had an issue with grip on the Koppenberg before [touches wood].”
Stay tuned to VeloNews on Sunday for complete coverage of the men’s and women’s edition of the Tour of Flanders.