Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, previously Omloop Het Volk, is a one-day road cycling race in Belgium, held annually in late February. It is the opening event of the Belgian cycling season, as well as the first race of the year in Northwestern Europe, and holds significant prestige because of it.[1] Since 2017, the race is part of the UCI World Tour, cycling's top-tier professional events.[2][3]

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Tom Boonen at the start of the 2009 event
Race details
DateLate February
RegionFlanders, Belgium
Local name(s)Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Dutch)
Nickname(s)The Omloop
The Opening Classic
CompetitionUCI World Tour
Race directorWim Van Herreweghe
Men's history
First edition1945 (1945)
Editions74 (as of 2019)[lower-alpha 1]
First winner Jean Bogaerts (BEL)
Most wins Joseph Bruyère (BEL)
 Ernest Sterckx (BEL)
 Peter Van Petegem (BEL)
(3 wins)
Most recent Zdeněk Štybar (CZ)
Women's history
First edition2006 (2006)
Editions14 (as of 2019)
First winner Suzanne de Goede (NED)
Most wins Suzanne de Goede (NED)
 Emma Johansson (SWE)
(2 wins)
Most recent Chantal Blaak (NED)

The race starts and finishes in Ghent, Flanders, and covers the hills in the Flemish Ardennes, marking the start of the cobbled classics season in Europe. Due to its early calendar date, it is characterized by often cold weather, coming as a contrast to the early-season stage races in the Middle East and Southern Europe.[4] The day after the Omloop, Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne completes the opening weekend.

Since 2006, a women's edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is held on the same day as the men's race, starting and finishing in the same location, approximately 130 kilometres in distance. Both events are organized by Flanders Classics.


Omloop Het Volk

First held in 1945, the race was called Omloop van Vlaanderen ("Circuit of Flanders"). The event was initiated by Flemish newspaper Het Volk, in response to rivaling newspaper Het Nieuwsblad’s classic, the Tour of Flanders. Het Volk, of left-leaning publication, wanted to start a new cycling event in Flanders as a rival race to what it saw as the Tour of Flanders' closeness to the Nazis during World War II.[lower-alpha 2][8] The Ronde's organizers protested that the name was too close to their own – there is little semantic difference between "Ronde" and "Omloop". The Belgian cycling federation demanded Het Volk to change the name of the event, prompting Het Volk to serve as title sponsor of their own race.[9][10] In 2009 the former rival newspapers Het Volk and Het Nieuwsblad merged, causing the event to be renamed Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for its 64th edition.[lower-alpha 3][11] Until 2016, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was ranked as a 1.HC event of the UCI Europe Tour; since 2017, it is included in the UCI World Tour.[2]

Winter race

Due to its early-season calendar date, the race has occasionally been affected by cold and wintry conditions.[4] Three editions of the event were cancelled. The 1971 race was postponed due to snow and run three weeks later. In 1986 and 2004 organizers were forced to cancel the race, as snow and freezing temperatures had made the route too dangerous and riders' safety could not be guaranteed.[12][13][14] In modern times, organizers rely heavily on weather forecasts and adjust the course if some sectors are deemed unsafe. Unrelated to the weather, the 1960 race was cancelled following a disagreement between the organizers and cycling's ruling body UCI.[lower-alpha 4]

Belgian opening race

Traditionally the opening event of the Belgian cycling season, the race holds particular importance for Belgian cyclists. Throughout its history, Belgian riders, comfortable with cold weather and aided by large, supportive crowds, have dominated the race. Belgians have won 56 editions, although, exemplary for the growing international status of the race, they have only won four of the last ten editions. In 1948 Italian cycling icon Fausto Coppi won the race, but was disqualified for receiving an illegal wheel-change.[lower-alpha 5]

The record for wins is three, shared by Joseph Bruyère, Ernest Sterckx and Peter van Petegem. Bruyère holds the fastest average (43.35 km/h) for his 1975 win. Other notable winners include Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens, Johan Museeuw, Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd.


Omloop Het Nieuwsblad starts in Ghent, East Flanders, and addresses the Flemish Ardennes in the south of the province, featuring numerous short climbs, before returning to Ghent.[15] From 1996 until 2007 the finish was in Lokeren, 20 km east of Ghent.

At 200 kilometres and with 13 climbs in the hill zone, the course is challenging and arduous. Additionally, there are several flat stretches of cobbles.[4] Despite annual changes, some of the regular climbs in the Omloop are the Leberg, Berendries, Taaienberg, Muur van Geraardsbergen, Eikenberg and Molenberg. Due to its hilly course in the Flemish Ardennes, the race is similar in nature to the Tour of Flanders, and is often used in preparation for the bigger event five weeks later. The 2016 race featured one new climb, Boembekeberg, as a replacement for the Molenberg, which was skipped because of road works.[15] This was reversed for the 2017 race.

Both the official start and finish are traditionally on Ghent's largest square, Sint-Pietersplein. Every seven years however, when Easter comes early in the year, the square is booked for the annual Mid-Lent fair and organizers need to find different locations. In 2016 and 2017, the Citadel city park, next to the Kuipke velodrome, served as start location. The finish was on the Emile Clauslaan thoroughfare, near the starting place.[16]

Men's winners

The following riders have won the race:[17]

Year Country Rider Team
1945  Belgium Jean Bogaerts Alcyon-Dunlop
1946  Belgium André Pieters Alcyon-Dunlop
1947  Belgium Albert Sercu Bertin-Wolber
1948  Belgium Sylvain Grysolle Zircon
1949  Belgium André Declerck Bertin-Wolber
1950  Belgium André Declerck Bertin-Wolber
1951  Belgium Jean Bogaerts Starnord-Wolber
1952  Belgium Ernest Sterckx L'Avenir
1953  Belgium Ernest Sterckx L'Avenir
1954  Belgium Karel De Baere Mercier-BP-Hutchinson
1955  Belgium Lode Anthonis L'Avenir
1956  Belgium Ernest Sterckx L'Avenir
1957  Belgium Norbert Kerckhove Faema-Guerra
1958  Belgium Joseph Planckaert Carpano
1959  Ireland Seamus Elliott Helyett-Fynsec
1960 No race
1961  Belgium Arthur De Cabooter Groene Leeuw-Sinalco-SAS
1962  Belgium Robert De Middeleir Wiel's-Groene Leeuw
1963  Belgium René Van Meenen Wiel's-Groene Leeuw
1964  Belgium Frans Melckenbeek Mercier-BP-Hutchinson
1965  Belgium Noël De Pauw Solo-Superia
1966  Netherlands Jo de Roo Televizier-Batavus
1967  Belgium Willy Vekemans Goldor-Gerka
1968  Belgium Herman Van Springel Mann-Grundig
1969  Belgium Roger De Vlaeminck Flandria–De Clerck–Krüger
1970  Belgium Frans Verbeeck Geens-Watney
1971  Belgium Eddy Merckx Molteni
1972  Belgium Frans Verbeeck Watney-Avia
1973  Belgium Eddy Merckx Molteni
1974  Belgium Joseph Bruyère Molteni
1975  Belgium Joseph Bruyère Molteni-RYC
1976  Belgium Willem Peeters Ijsboerke-Colnago
1977  Belgium Freddy Maertens Flandria–Velda–Latina Assicurazioni
1978  Belgium Freddy Maertens Flandria–Velda–Lano
1979  Belgium Roger De Vlaeminck Gis Gelati
1980  Belgium Joseph Bruyère Marc-Carlos-V.R.D.
1981  Netherlands Jan Raas TI–Raleigh–Creda
1982  Belgium Alfons De Wolf Vermeer Thijs
1983  Belgium Alfons De Wolf Bianchi-Piaggio
1984  Belgium Eddy Planckaert Panasonic
1985  Belgium Eddy Planckaert Panasonic
1986 No race due to snow
1987  Netherlands Teun van Vliet Panasonic
1988  Belgium Ronny Van Holen Roland
1989  Belgium Etienne De Wilde Histor-Sigma
1990  Belgium Johan Capiot TVM
1991  Germany Andreas Kappes Toshiba-Look
1992  Belgium Johan Capiot TVM–Sanyo
1993  Belgium Wilfried Nelissen Novemail-Histor
1994  Belgium Wilfried Nelissen Novemail-Histor
1995  Italy Franco Ballerini Mapei–GB–Latexco
1996  Belgium Tom Steels Mapei–GB
1997  Belgium Peter Van Petegem TVM–Farm Frites
1998  Belgium Peter Van Petegem TVM–Farm Frites
1999  Belgium Frank Vandenbroucke Cofidis
2000  Belgium Johan Museeuw Mapei–Quick-Step
2001  Italy Michele Bartoli Mapei–Quick-Step
2002  Belgium Peter Van Petegem Lotto–Adecco
2003  Belgium Johan Museeuw Quick-Step–Davitamon
2004 No race due to snow
2005  Belgium Nick Nuyens Quick-Step–Innergetic
2006  Belgium Philippe Gilbert Française des Jeux
2007  Italy Filippo Pozzato Liquigas
2008  Belgium Philippe Gilbert Française des Jeux
2009  Norway Thor Hushovd Cervélo TestTeam
2010  Spain Juan Antonio Flecha Team Sky
2011  Netherlands Sebastian Langeveld Rabobank
2012  Belgium Sep Vanmarcke Garmin–Barracuda
2013  Italy Luca Paolini Team Katusha
2014  Great Britain Ian Stannard Team Sky
2015  Great Britain Ian Stannard Team Sky
2016  Belgium Greg Van Avermaet BMC Racing Team
2017  Belgium Greg Van Avermaet BMC Racing Team
2018  Denmark Michael Valgren Astana
2019  Czech Republic Zdeněk Štybar Deceuninck–Quick-Step

Multiple winners

Riders in italics are active

Wins Rider Editions
3 Ernest Sterckx (BEL)1952, 1953, 1956
 Joseph Bruyère (BEL)1974, 1975, 1980
 Peter Van Petegem (BEL)1997, 1998, 2002
2 Jean Bogaerts (BEL)1945, 1951
 André Declerck (BEL)1949, 1950
 Frans Verbeeck (BEL)1970, 1972
 Eddy Merckx (BEL)1971, 1973
 Freddy Maertens (BEL)1977, 1978
 Roger De Vlaeminck (BEL)1969, 1979
 Fons De Wolf (BEL)1982, 1983
 Eddy Planckaert (BEL)1984, 1985
 Johan Capiot (BEL)1990, 1992
 Wilfried Nelissen (BEL)1993, 1994
 Johan Museeuw (BEL)2000, 2003
 Philippe Gilbert (BEL)2006, 2008
 Ian Stannard (GBR)2014, 2015
 Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)2016, 2017

Wins per country

[lower-alpha 1]

56 Belgium
4 Italy
2 United Kingdom
1 Denmark
 Czech Republic

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Women elite

Since 2006 there is a women's version of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Held on the same day as the men's event, it uses much of the same roads and equally opens the women's cycling season in Northern Europe. In recent editions the route is 122 km, featuring eight climbs and six sections of cobbles.[18] Dutch rider Suzanne de Goede and Sweden's Emma Johansson have won the race twice.

Edition Winner Second Third
2006 Suzanne de Goede Mirjam Melchers Tanja Hennes
2007 Mie Bekker Lacota Monica Holler Jaccolien Wallaard
2008 Kirsten Wild Angela Brodtka Emma Johansson
2009 Suzanne de Goede Noemi Cantele Kelly Druyts
2010 Emma Johansson Liesbet De Vocht Grace Verbeke
2011 Emma Johansson Andrea Bosman Chantal Blaak
2012 Loes Gunnewijk Ellen van Dijk Trixi Worrack
2013 Tiffany Cromwell Megan Guarnier Emma Johansson
2014 Amy Pieters Emma Johansson Lizzie Armitstead
2015 Anna van der Breggen Ellen van Dijk Lizzie Armitstead
2016 Lizzie Armitstead Chantal Blaak Tiffany Cromwell
2017 Lucinda Brand Chantal Blaak Annemiek van Vleuten
2018 Christina Siggaard Alexis Ryan Maria Giulia Confalonieri
2019 Chantal Blaak Marta Bastianelli Jip Van Den Bos

Wins per country

8 Netherlands
2 Denmark
1 Australia
 United Kingdom

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad U23

An edition of the race for under-23 men has been held since 1950.


  1. Only 70 editions of the race have been run, with two runnings cancelled due to snow.
  2. The Tour of Flanders is the only cycling classic in Europe that was organized on German-occupied territory during the Second World War and in full agreement with the German command.[5] The Germans not only allowed and enjoyed the race but helped police the route as well.[6] This led to accusations of collaboration with Nazi Germany.[7]
  3. Het Nieuwsblad, as the bigger newspaper, became the name-bearer of the merge.
  4. UCI had given better calendar dates to other Belgian races, prompting Het Volk to call off the race in protest.
  5. Belgian Walschott had given Coppi his wheel, but rules allowed assistance only from team-mates

References and footnotes

  • European Cycling - The 20 Greatest Races by Noel Henderson (1989) ISBN 0-941950-20-4.
  1. Barry, Ryan. "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad marks coming of Belgian spring. Boonen, Wiggins and Cavendish on show at opening weekend". Cyclingnews. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  2. "UCI expands WorldTour to 37 events". Cycling News. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  3. "The UCI reveals expanded UCI WorldTour calendar for 2017". UCI. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  4. "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite 2016". Cycling News. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  5. Bicycling, USA, undated cutting
  6. Konrad, Gabe and Melanie (200), Bikelore, On The Wheel Publications (USA), ISBN 1-892495-32-5, p101
  7. SBR, Stay the Course, Tour de Flanders, April 7th, 2007 by Christophe Vandaele Archived 2016-03-09 at the Wayback Machine
  8. "Daily Peloton - Pro Cycling News".
  9. Vanwalleghem, Rik, Het Wonder van Vlaanderen, Pinguin, Belgium, ISBN 90-73322-09-X, p69
  10. Vanwalleghem, Rik, Het Wonder van Vlaanderen, Pinguin, Belgium, ISBN 90-73322-09-X, p72
  11. Haake, Bjorn. "64th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - 1.HC: New name, similar route for Classic opener". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  12. Jones, Jeff. "59th Omloop Het Volk". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  13. Jones, Jeff. "Het Volk cancelled". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  14. Jones, Jeff. "An icy start in Belgium". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  15. "Roadmap" (PDF). Flanders Classics. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  16. "Bekijk hier het gewijzigde parcours van de Omloop Het Nieuwsblad". Het Nieuwsblad. Mediahuis. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  17. "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad". Cycling Archives. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  18. "Van der Breggen wins women's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad". Cyclingnews. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
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