Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: essential info for the opening weekend cobbled Classic

Everything you need to know about the cobbled the one-day race in Belgium

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2023:

Date: Saturday February 25, 2023 
Start: Gent, Flanders 
Finish: Ninove, Flanders 
Total distance: 207km (men), 132.2km (women)
Defending champion: Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is a men's and women's one-day race held in Belgium and is the first WorldTour race to be held in Europe. The men's race first began in 1945 and has become the opening of the Flanders Classics season. Starting in Ghent and finishing in Ninove, the route covers the hills of the Flemish Ardennes and includes the iconic cobbled streets of Belgium. 

Its early start in the racing calendar means that the one-day race is often associated with cold weather – a contrast to earlier WorldTour races in the Middle East and Australia. Over the years, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad has been moved or cancelled due to bad weather and now the race organisers keep a close eye on the forecasts and will make any changes to the route if they feel it is necessary. 

Only three riders have won the cobbled race three times: Ernest Sterckx (1952, 1953 and 1956), Joseph Bruyère (1974, 1975 and 1980), and Peter Van Petegem (1997, 1998 and 2002). It’s not too much of a surprise that almost all the record holders for winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad more than once have come from Belgium. Out of the 77 races held so far in its history, 58 of those who have taken the title have been from the race's home country. British rider Ian Stannard was the only non-Belgium rider to make it onto the honours list for winning the race on more than one occasion. 

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2022

The defending champion is Wout van Aert from Jumbo-Visma, who last year crossed the finish line solo having attacked with 12km to go. But it’s said that Van Aert will skip the opening Classics race this year as he has his sights set on other Classics races he is yet to win. 

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad men’s teams:

  • Team Flanders - Baloise 
  • Human Powered Health
  • Lotto dstny 
  • TotalEnergies 
  • Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 
  • Bingoal WB 
  • Isreal Premier-Tech 
  • Bora-Hansgrohe
  • AG2R Citroën Team 
  • Alpecin-Deceuninck 
  • Astana Qazaqstan 
  • Bahrain-Victorious 
  • Cofidis 
  • EF Education-EasyPost
  • Groupama-FDJ
  • Ineos Grenadiers 
  • Intermarché-Circus-Wanty 
  • Jumbo-Visma
  • Movistar 
  • Soudal Quick-Step
  • Team Arkéa Samsic
  • Jayco AlUla
  • Team DSM 
  • Trek-Segafredo

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad route: 

The men’s route is 207km long, with 12 climbs and eight cobblestone sections. The first climb comes after 40km of racing on the Leberg in Elst. This is the only real uphill challenge the peloton faces during the first half of the route and it's not until 70km later that the action really starts to begin. From Kattenberg in Ghent the hills keep coming – Hostellerie, Valkenberg, Wolvenberg, Molenberg, and Berendries all come within 10km of each other with a number of cobbled sections thrown in to add to the excitement. 

Just under 20km from the finish line, the peloton face the penultimate climb – Muur van Geraardsbergen. The steep, narrow cobbled climb which has become iconic in the Tour of Flanders and has now featured in 49 editions of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. No time to catch their breath, around 3km later, the final climb of the day is upon them. Another former Tour of Flanders staple, the Bosberg has become legendary in this race thanks to its short but punchy distance and gradient. 

After they have tackled the 12 climbs and eight cobble sections across the route, it's 12km of flat road to the finish line in Ninove.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Women 

Since 2006, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad has had a women’s edition held on the same day as the men’s. Shorter in distance than the men’s race, the women still use much of the same roads through the Flemish Ardennes. Now in its 18th edition, the one-day race will be the first race in Europe for the Women’s WorldTour. 

Movistar rider Annemiek Van Vleuten is one of the four riders who have won the women’s edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad twice, first taking the title in 2020 and winning the latest edition in 2022. Other riders who join her are Suzanne de Goede (2006 and 2009), Emma Johansson (2010 and 2011), and Anna van der Breggen (2015 and 2021). It is not confirmed whether Van Vleuten will make a return to the cobbles for the 2023 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to defend her title. Unlike the men’s race, a Belgium rider is yet to win the women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, with the Netherlands taking the top spot. 

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad women’s teams:

  • Liv Racing TeqFind
  • Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini 
  • Human Powered Health
  • Canyon//SRAM Racing
  • Team DSM 
  • Team SD Worx
  • Trek-Segafredo 
  • Jumbo-Visma
  • EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
  • Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
  • Isreal Premier Tech Roland 
  • Movistar 
  • Jayco AlUla 
  • Fenix-Deceininck
  • Cofidis Women Team

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad women’s route: 

The women’s race is 132km long and features iconic climbs and cobblestones like the men’s race. Starting in Ghent, the women’s peloton heads south where after 30km they reach their first cobbled section in Lange Munte. 

Similar to the men’s route, the first half of this race doesn’t feature many climbs or cobblestones, instead the second half is where the action takes place. After 70km the peloton approaches their first climb – Edelareberg – and from then on they alternate between the climbs and the cobbles, attacking Wolvenberg, Molenberg and Leberg until 102km where they reach Berendries. 

From there only three climbs stand between the riders and the finish line. First, the Elverenberg-Vossenhol, followed by the punchy Muur Kapelmuur and finally, Bosberg – all within 15km. The final 12km of the route is a flat run to the finish in Ninove. 

Where to watch Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2023: 

Coverage from both the men’s and women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will be streamed live on GCN+ for those watching from the UK and Europe. Eurosport will also be covering the race live as well as posting highlights videos for those who can’t tune in to watch the full race.

Shop now