The cobbles, climbs and cobbled climbs of Belgium

Crack open an oud bruin, smear some samurai sauce on your frites and brace yourself for Belgium. It’s time for cobbles, short climbs and short cobbled climbs as we build towards the Ronde van Vlaanderen (the Tour of Flanders) on the 6th of April.

Okay, that race is still some way off, but the reconnaisance and intrigue start this weekend with the Omloop and then Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. It’s the start of spring classics season.

Big races?

This weekend’s? Yeah, they’re pretty big. Definitely worth winning in their own right, but perhaps more of interest because they use many of the same roads seen in bigger races a few weeks later.

The Omloop is the tougher race of the two. It spirals around Flanders going over a number of the cobbled climbs which are used in the Tour of Flanders.

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, meanwhile, is flatter and is often won by sprinters. Mark Cavendish won in 2012 (it was snowed off last year). Like most Belgian races, its name is misleading. Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne doesn’t actually get as far as Brussels.

Riders to watch

Basically, whichever of these guys happens to enter, plus any well-known sprinters for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. More specifically, Tom Boonen has shown strong form already this year, as has Peter Sagan.

In terms of the actual watching, I think Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is on Eurosport on Sunday.