The Tour of Flanders, also known as De Ronde, is one of the most engaging one day races in cycling. The Belgian event, which is easily the most important race in Flanders, is one of the five Monuments of cycling (along with Milan–San Remo, Paris–Roubaix, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and the Giro di Lombardia) and will take place on Sunday, Apr. 4.
Last year’s Tour of Flanders is still quite fresh— the eventful race, re-scheduled to October due to the pandemic, was only about 160 days ago. The classic Mathieu van der Poel versus Wout Van Aert rivalry played out beautifully during the race, with van der Poel narrowly out-sprinting Van Aert at the line. Julian Alaphilippe, who was a contender with the two young cyclists, crashed into a motorbike and ended his race due to resulting injuries.
In the women’s 2020 race, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak soloed to victory after an attack at the end of the Oude Kwaremont climb. The Dutch cyclist won by a minute, while Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans) finished second and Lotte Kopecky (Lotto-Soudal) finished third.
The 2021 Tour of Flanders
The women’s race, which has been held since 2004, is 100km shorter than the men’s race (163km vs. 267km). The women will take on 10 ‘bergs’, three of which will be cobbled, and four sections of flat cobbles. Canadian Alison Jackson is set to take on the race with her team Liv Racing. Jackson also will get the chance to see fellow Canadian and ex-teammate Leah Kirchmann, who races for Team DSM.
The men’s race, which will start in Antwerp (rather than Bruges where it more commonly begins), will see two Canadians racing for Astana – Premier Tech: Hugo Houle and Benjamin Perry.
One of the Cobbled Classics, the men’s race is now on its 105th edition. Since its inception in 1913, the event, which is nicknamed Vlaanderens Mooiste (Dutch for “Flanders’ Finest”), has run consistently, only having been cancelled during World War I. As of 1919, the Tour of Flanders has gone on without interruption—the longest uninterrupted streak of any cycling classic. Though COVID cases in Belgium are spiking in a similar manner to France, unlike Paris-Roubaix the Tour of Flanders will occur as planned.
In an interview with France Bleu Nord radio station Michel Lalande, head of the Hauts-de-France region, was critical of Belgian officials’ choice to carry on with cycling events.
In Canada, you can stream the Tour of Flanders on Flobikes. On Sunday Apr. 4, the men’s race kicks off at at the early hour of 3:55 a.m. EDT (12:55 a.m. PDT), finishing at a much more reasonable 10:30 a.m. EDT (7:30 a.m. PDT). The women’s race coverage picks up at 10:30 a.m. EDT (7:30 a.m. PDT) and finishes at 12:30 a.m. EDT (9:30 a.m. PDT).