The second dose of cobbled Classics action in the opening weekend comes with Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday, 27th February. It’s set to be a high-paced, action-packed day in Belgium.
The race comes a day after the first Classic of the new season, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, which kicks off on Saturday 26th February. While Omloop is a WorldTour race, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is a second division level race. However, it still attracts some of the biggest names around.
This year, the route sees a slight change with no Oude Kwaremont on the menu but rather a trio of climbs. The Hameau des Papins, Le Bourliquet and Mont Saint-Laurent could all lead to early selections.
With the usual Kruisberg, Hotund, Côte du Trieu and Kluisberg remaining in the race, as well as the Sint-Denijs and Bellegem sections, the rest of the route doesn’t change too dramatically. Although, there are new climbs in the race with the Kattenberg and Berg Ten Houte both thrown in.
Will be with 13 climbs along the route, its going to be a testing race.
There are some huge names set to take to the race with a real mix of sprinters and Classics specialists, including new cyclo-cross world champion Tom Pidcock.
Image: Alex Whitehead/SWpix
The British talent could see this season as his big breakout year with races like Kuurne being high on his hit list. Pidcock managed a very impressive podium finish at this race in 2021, in only his third race as a Team Ineos rider.
Pidcock won’t be the only rider who can skip up the climbs and cobbles and then have a good sprint, though. European Champion and winner of Paris-Roubaix Sonny Colbrellli is down to ride, as well as former winners Jasper Stuyven and Peter Sagan. Greg Van Avermaet, Matteo Trentin, Zdeněk Štybar and Florian Sénéchal are also some top names who will be targeting a strong result.
Of the pure sprinters, the biggest names are probably Fabio Jakobsen and Pascal Ackermann. Jakobsen has started his season well with wins in Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, so will be carrying good form into the Classics, he will just have to make it over the rolling terrain so he can have a shot at the line.
Alexander Kristoff is set to ride and could have a good chance of taking victory. Other sprinters down on the list are Arnaud De Lie, Timothy Dupont, Bryan Coquard, Kristoffer Halvorsen, Arvid De Kleijn, Amaury Capiot, Jordi Meeus and Martin Laas.
The new route could see this race break apart far sooner than usual. Often with this race, the climbs split the bunch, with a group of talented Classics riders out front being chased down by the sprinters’ teams in the peloton, making it a rapid finish on the local laps around Kuurne. Image: Luc Claessen/Getty
It is very tricky to predict, but in the last few years Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne has often been won by a solo rider, with Jasper Stuyven, Bob Jungels and Kasper Asgreen all managing that in the last 10 years. Although, these results are mixed in with a few bunch sprints and select group sprints too.
We’ll stick our necks out and guess that there will be a select group that comes to the line together. From this, we think French talent Florian Sénéchal will take his chance with a rapid finish.
Cover image: PdV/PN/Cor Vos/SWPix