Purists can sleep easy. Despite reports over the winter that the emblematic Kapelmuur climb might not be included in the Tour of Flanders, officials confirmed the famous “wall” is indeed part of the 2020 route.
It appears a rift between local politicians and organizers over fees has been hammered out. On Friday, officials confirmed routes for April 5 races that are “virtually” unchanged. That means the men’s race will start in Antwerp, end in Oudenarde, and hit the famous Flemish Ardennes, with the Kapelmuur tucked in along the way.
Officials confirmed the distances and routes, with the men’s race at 267km, with 17 climbs and five cobble sectors. The women’s race is 159km, with 10 climbs and four cobbled sectors.
The women’s race, now in its 17th edition, starts in Oudenaarde, with 10 climbs and four cobbled sectors. In Zottegem the peloton will rumble across the first cobbles, before hitting the Muur van Geraardsbergen via Tenbosse. The Taaienberg, added in 2019, will also feature in this year’s race and is the gateway to the same final as the men’s race. After hitting Kruisberg/Hotond, the women race towards the decisive climbs at Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. From there, it’s 13km to the finish line.
For the men’s race, Antwerp serves as the starting point again. The first of the cobble sectors comes at Lippenhovestraat and Paddestraat in the municipality of Zottegem. Officials are also promoting the “Villages of de Ronde” — Sint-Niklaas, Hamme, Berlare, Herzele and Zottegem — where special events and parties will be organized along the 2020-21 routes.
At 150km to go, the peloton reaches the first hill zone where they ride up and over the Oude Kwaremont. Just like in previous editions, the route tackles the Oude Kwaremont three times, and the Paterberg twice. The new-look sequence of hills and cobbles in the Flemish Ardennes remains the same, with one exception. The third hill will be the Eikenberg instead of Ladeuze. The Muur van Geraardsbergen (aka Kapelmuur) forms part of the race with the classical approach via Tenbosse.
Once the race is over the Muur, that’s when the “real” final starts. The same six hills as last year will feature in the final 50 kilometers of the race. With about 45km to go, the first assault of the Koppenberg is followed by cobbles at Mariaborrestraat, Steenbeekdries and Taaienberg. From the Kruisberg/Hotond in Ronse the peloton moves towards the final, decisive climbs at Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg.
It’s 13km from the Paterberg to the finish line on the Minderbroedersstraat in Oudenaarde, where winners are welcomed by thousands piling into the town square.