Date: Sunday April 2, 2023
Total distance: 273.4km (men), 158km (women)
Defending champion: Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx)
The Tour of Flanders began in 1913, marking this year as the race's 110th anniversary. A race defined by its tortuous twists, turns and narrow cobbled climbs, the Tour of Flanders, or Ronde van Vlaanderen, is arguably the finest of the Classics.
The route may change slightly each year, but the hellingen that pack the region and define the race are a given, guaranteed to produce worthy winners of a true Monument. In the Ronde, only the strong survive. Founded by a young sports journalist named Karel Van Wijnendaele and founding member of the newspaper Sportwereld, Leon den Haute, they wanted to create something which was more than just a bike race.
While there are four other Monument races which hold such prestige and history in the WorldTour calendar, there is no other race which defines a nation quite like the Tour of Flanders. Unsurprisingly, the most victories come from Belgian riders, with a total of 69 wins out of the 107 editions.
The winner of the inaugural edition was Belgian rider Paul Denman who rode for Automoto-Continental. Many years later, 104 to be exact, Philippe Gilbert became the most recent home winner of De Ronde, riding solo to the finish resplendent in the Belgian national champion's jersey.
In its long history, only a handful of riders have taken the title on multiple occasions. Riders including Achiel Buysse, Fiorenzo Magni, Eric Leman, Johan Museeuw, Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara have crossed the finish line first on three occasions. King of the cobbles, Boonen and Cancellara are the only riders to have achieved the cobbled Classics double (Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix), twice, making them legendary in both these races.
Last year's winner Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin–Deceuninck) will be back for this year’s edition in the hope of defending his title, but there will be tough competition as he’ll be lining up against fierce competition that includes Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Dylan Van Baarle (Jumbo-Visma), Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who have all shown strong performances so far in the Classics.
Men’s Tour of Flanders 2023 teams list:
- AG2R Citroën Team
- Astana Qazaqstan Team
- EF Education-EasyPost
- Ineos Grenadiers
- Movistar Team
- Soudal Quick-Step
- Team Arkea-Samsic
- Team DSM
- Team Jayco AlUla
- UAE Team Emirates
- Israel-Premier Tech
- Lotto Dstny
- Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team
- Team Flanders-Baloise
- Bingoal WB
- Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
Men’s Tour of Flanders 2023 route:
After six years of starting in Antwerp, this year's Tour of Flanders will begin in Bruges and head 273.4km to Oudenaarde. The first 100km of the route will be easy going for the riders as they settle into the race. It's only at 109km where they face their first challenge, the Huisepontweg cobbled section.
As they approach the midway point of the race, they will also approach the iconic Oude Kwaremont for the first time. Standing at 2.2km in length, the Oude Kwaremont is the longest climb in Flanders, and while its gradient is easy on the legs, there is a 11.6% punch in the middle. After the halfway mark, the route intensifies and every 10km the peloton will face another cobbled challenge, offering little chance in between to recover. The Holleweg, Molenberg and Valkenberg all come in quick succession and is a chance to thin the main peloton.
With 55km remaining, the riders will take on the iconic duo – Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg – for the first time. The two climbs feature again when the riders have just 17km remaining, so this is where we expect to see some decisive moments be made. Unlike the Oude Kwaremont, the Paterberg is a short but steep climb, with an eye-watering average gradient of 12.9%.
The Tour of Flanders this year finishes with its usual flat run-in to Oudenaarde. If no rider has managed to break away from the main peloton, here is where we see the most dramatic racing as the riders all battle it out to the line for victory.
Tour of Flanders Women
The Tour of Flanders held its first women's edition in 2004. The route was just 94km long – making it the shortest route in the race's history. It was only in 2016 that the women's race was awarded UCI WorldTour status and has since become one of the most anticipated races in the women's calendar. Its legendary status in Belgium and notoriously tricky parcours make it a spectacle year after year.
The women's race is held on the same day as the men's and finishes one hour after the men’s on the run-in to Oudenaarde. The route takes in much of the men's route, but has a different starting point.
Last year, for the first time, the notorious Koppenberg was on the menu for the women's peloton. This year the climb will return, and the women face the same final duo of the Ronde: Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg.
Read more: Who will win the women’s Tour of Flanders?
Last year, SD Worx rider Lotte Kopecky won the 2022 edition of the Tour of Flanders, followed by Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx). Only three riders have managed to achieve a first place podium on more than one occasion in this race, including Mirjam Melchers, Van Vleuten and Judith Arndt. No one has secured a third title, but with Van Vleuten back on the start line for the final time, will she manage to make history in this race?
Women's Tour of Flanders 2023 team list:
- Canyon//SRAM Racing
- EF Education-Tibco-SVB
- Human Powered Health
- Israel Premier Tech Roland
- Liv Racing Teqfind
- Team DSM
- Team Jayco AlUla
- SD Worx
- UAE Team ADQ
- Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
- AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step
- Lotto Dstny
- Parkhotel Valkenburg
- Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT
- Zaaf Cycling Team
- Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team
- Lifeplus Wahoo
Women's Tour of Flanders 2023 route:
Slightly shorter than the men's race at 153km, the women's route is by no means easier with 13 climbs and five sections of pavè still to contend with. The women's route will also start and finish in Oudenaarde.
The women's peloton will reach the first cobbled section after 10km of racing, but seemingly like a mistake, no other cobbles appear until 40km later, where they then come thick and fast. Within the space of 14km, the women's peloton are hit with the Molenberg, Marlboroughstraat, Berendries and Valkenberg one after one.
Little time to recover, they'll then also take on a series of unrelenting climbs including the race's most famous climbs, Koppenberg and Taaienberg, with just over 40km of the race remaining.
With 17km to go, like the men's route, the race will take on the race's iconic duo, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. After they are up and over the Paterberg, the remaining 13km is a flat finish back into Oudenaarde.