Start town changes, dirt roads and bergs remain for Gent-Wevelgem 2020

Start town of Belgian classic shifts to Ypres, altering first half of course but retaining decisive features of finale.

Gent-Wevelgem will shift its start town in 2020, but the dirt roads and cobbled climbs of the finale will remain.

The spring classic has started in Belgian town Deinze since the turn of the century, but in 2020, the race will start from the Grote Markt in Ypres.

The relocated start to the race means that the first phase of the race will take a different course. However, the back end of the race, which is loaded with cobbled climbs including the often-decisive Kemmelberg, and uses sections of dirt road, known as ‘plugstreets,’ remain unaltered.

The overall distance of the new route is also almost identical to 2019, increasing by just two kilometers to a total of 254km.

The Grote Markt (market square) in Ypres is one of the most picturesque places in West Flanders. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Gent-Wevelgem is differentiated from other spring races in that the route traditionally spent long periods close to the North Sea coast, which could see strong winds and echelons. The new route for 2020 reduces the amount of time the peloton will spend in the wind-swept northern section of Belgium slightly.

The race, won in 2019 by Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), will take place on March 29 2020. Gent-Wevelgem marks the start of ‘the holy week’ of Belgian racing, a seven-day stretch that also sees racing at Dwars Door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders.