The Flemish classic Gent-Wevelgem has a rich cycling history that starts in 1934. At that time the race was only held for the amateurs and between 1936 and 1939 for the independents, but in 1945 (after an interruption during the war) it was transformed into a major event for the pros. For many years the classic was held on the Wednesday between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, but now it has been moved to the Sunday before the Tour of Flanders. The course includes several climbs, the most notable of which is Kemmelberg. Gent-Wevelgem is one of the great classics of Flanders, yet it is also known as a preparation for the Tour of Flanders since it takes place a week before.
Some interesting facts about Gent-Wevelgem
Two days cycling race
From 1957 to 1959 Gent-Wevelgem took place on the same weekend as Omloop Het Volk (now Omloop Het Nieuwsblad). The format then was a two-day race with only one winner taking the Flanders Trophy. In 1960 Gent-Wevelgem became a one-day race again because the Belgian Cycling Federation had a conflict with the organisation of Omloop Het Volk. As a result, this race was removed from the calendar and the Flanders Trophy ceased to exist. All the slopes of both races were then included in Gent-Wevelgem: Wall of Geraardsbergen, Kwaremont, Kluisberg, Tiegemberg, Kemmelberg, Vidaigneberg and Helling van Mesem.
Gent-Wevelgem has a rich history of parcours changes, only the Kemmelberg has almost always been a constant over the years. This is a short, but very steep climb on cobblestones, which the riders usually have to cross twice.
In the 1953 edition the riders at Gent-Wevelgem had to deal with a strong storm wind. With 50 kilometres to go, 12 riders competed for the win, including Rik van Steenbergen, Roger Decock, Hein van Breenen, Raymond Impanis and Germain Derycke. Raymond Impanis attacked with 25 kilometres to go and he succeeded. On the Vidaigne and on the Rodeberg he attacked on his own and quickly gained a lead. Van Steenbergen was able to keep up but eventually had to let Impanis go and he won that edition against the stormy weather!
In 1962 Rik van Looy was the first to win the three cobbled classics with Ghent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. 1962 was a great year for van Looy as he also won two stages in the Giro d'Italia and three six-day races with Peter Post. During the Tour he was unfortunately eliminated due to a fall.
- Robert Van Eenaeme (1936, 1937, 1945)
- Rik Van Looy (1956, 1657 en 1962)
- Eddy Merckx (1967, 1970, 1973)
- Mario Cipollini (1992, 1993, 2002)
- Tom Boonen (2004, 2011, 2012)
- Peter Sagan (2013, 2016, 2018)
The Belgians are the strongest
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