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Tour of Flanders 2021: Route, start list, sportive and all you need to know

Cyclist magazine
1 Apr 2021

Key information about the men's and women's 2021 Tour of Flanders, including route, riders, live TV guide and key climbs

Tour of Flanders 2021: Key information

Tour of Flanders date, route, live TV coverage and race schedules

Date: Sunday 4th April 2021 (Easter Sunday)  
Start: Men's – Antwerp, Belgium / Women's – Oudenaarde, Belgium  
Finish: Oudenaarde, Belgium  
UK live TV coverage: Eurosport, GCN+  
UK TV highlights: Eurosport  
Distance: 267km (men), 157km (women)  

Check out our selection of the BEST images from the 2021 men's Tour of Flanders here.

Tour of Flanders: All you need to know

Page 1: Essential guide and key climbs  
Page 2: History of the race  
Page 3: Top five editions  
Page 4: Sportive ride report  

The men's and women's 2021 Tour of Flanders races are both set to take place on Sunday 4th April – Easter Sunday.

Defined by its cobbled climbs, the 2021 Tour of Flanders as usual will be largely played out in a small part of Belgium known as the Vlaamse Ardennen, or Flemish Ardennes, and over the years has developed a reputation as a favourite for both spectators and riders alike, such is the atmosphere that accompanies the race as it winds its way through the lanes of Flanders.

A major course change now sees the route centred around the town of Oudenaarde, which after Peter Sagan was crowned victor there in 2016 has hosted the finish each year since. However, a recent tweak to the race saw the start switch from Bruges to Antwerp, altering the opening kilometres of the race.

A bigger change in 2017 was the reintroduction of the famous Muur van Geraardsbergen, although its distance from the finish meant it wasn't the decisive berg and was removed from the corona-shortened 2020 Tour of Flanders.

The same day also sees the women's peloton scale the cobbled bergs of Flanders with a 157km race from and back to Oudenaarde. Like the men's race, it'll be the one-two punch of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg that will shape the finale of the race.

Tour of Flanders 2021 route – men's

The Tour of Flanders has changed the route numerous times over the course of its 100+ editions. The 2021 race will be the fifth time that the race has started in Antwerp rather than Bruges, which had hosted the race since 1998.

After being left out from 2011 to 2016, the Muur Van Geraardsbergen was reinstated and features as a spectacle again this year. From its start in Antwerp the race heads towards the town of Oudenaarde, and after a couple of preliminary cobbled sectors, the race starts a sequence of circuits.

The first of these starts with the Oude Kwaremont – the only climb to feature in the race three times – and heads out to Geraarsbergen for the Muur, before returning to Oudenaarde and commencing two shorter laps, in which the Paterberg and Koppenberg both feature.

Tour of Flanders 2021 route – women's

The women's race will be similar, albeit 100km shorter, with the Kwaremont/Paterberg closing out the day's action.

While the women's race does not scale the Koppenberg it does take on the Kapelmuur within the last 60km, making it an excellent springboard for the brave and more relevantly placed at the business end of the route compared to the men's race.

In total, the peloton will take on 10 'bergs', three of which will be cobbled, and four sections of flat cobbles.

Tour of Flanders 2021 television schedule

Men's race

Eurosport Player and GCN+ Race Pass, Sunday 4th April, 0840-1530  
Eurosport 1, Sunday 4th April, 0855-1545

Women's race

Eurosport Player and GCN+ Race Pass, Sunday 4th April, 1535-1735  
Eurosport 1, Sunday 4th April, 1545-1800

Tour of Flanders 2021 men's teams

WorldTour teams

AG2R-Citroën
Astana-Premier Tech
Bahrain Victorious
Bora-Hansgrohe
Cofidis
Deceuninck-QuickStep
EF Education-Nippo
Groupama-FDJ
Ineos Grenadiers
Intermarché-Wanty Gobert Matériaux
Israel Start-Up Nation
Jumbo-Visma
Lotto Soudal
Movistar
Qhubeka Assos
Team BikeExchange
Team DSM
Trek-Segafredo
UAE Team Emirates

ProTeam wildcard teams

Alpecin-Fenix
Arkéa Samsic
Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles
Total Direct Energie

Tour of Flanders: Previous male winners

2020 - Mathieu van der Poel (NED) Alpecin-Fenix
2019 - Alberto Bettiol (ITA) Education First
2018 - Niki Terpstra (NED) Quick-Step Floors
2017 - Philippe Gilbert (BEL) Quick-Step Floors
2016 - Peter Sagan (SLO) Tinkoff
2015 - Alexander Kristoff (NOR) Katusha
2014 - Fabian Cancellara (SUI) Trek Factory Racing
2013 - Fabian Cancellara (SUI) RadioShack-Leopard
2012 - Tom Boonen (BEL) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
2011 - Nick Nuyens (BEL) SaxoBank-Sungard
2010 - Fabian Cancellara (SUI) Saxo Bank
2009 - Stijn Devolder (BEL) Quickstep-Innergetic

Tour of Flanders 2021 men's favourites

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix)

Riding on a smaller team and taking a smaller wage than he might otherwise means Mathieu van der Poel gets to pick the races he wants to win. And it’s very clear he wanted to win Flanders last year. After joining his dad Adri van der Poel on the roll call of victors, there’s very little reason to think he isn't capable of doing it again.

Despite the massive success of last year’s second-placed rider Wout van Aert, it still feels as if Van der Poel is able to intimidate his rival – a legacy of more often having got the better of him during their overlapping careers – and enters each one-day race he enters as the red hot favourite.

The big issue for the Dutchman will be isolation. No, not a Covid bubble breach, but isolation on the road. Last week at E3 Harelbeke, the Deceuninck-QuickStep gang proved the way to beat Van der Poel – and Van Aert – is to outnumber him. To avoid that, Van der Poel needs to keep clear of a scenario that leaves him alone with more than one QuickStep rider. Easier said than done.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)

For many fans, Wout was the rider of last year. Winning Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo before tearing apart the Tour de France as a multi-terrain domestique for Primoz Roglic, he looked unstoppable.

Yet when it came down to just him and arch-rival Van der Poel, it was Van der Poel who finished just a centimetre ahead on the Oudernaarde finish line.

Will this mess with his head a second time around? Maybe. During the winter cyclocross season, Van der Poel consistently outperformed Van Aert and did so at Strade Bianche in March too. Then there was E3 Harelbeke where his legs went pop.

His recent victory at Gent-Wevelgem will have restored any lost confidence but there is no denying that Van Aert is the underdog in this Van der Poel/Van Aert psychodrama.

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck–QuickStep)

Citation needed: QuickStep's entire team is a threat at Flanders. Even down to good old tractor Tim Declercq, riders 1 to 8 from the QuickStep stable have what it takes to blow this race to smithereens. Look at their seven man team time-trial on the Taaineberg at E3 last weekend. This team can turn the course of a race on a sixpence. 

Julian Alaphilippe will lead the boys from Belgium on Sunday but look to any one of Kasper Asgreen, Florian Senechal, Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar for a potential victory.

Regardless of who finishes best for QuickStep on Sunday we can almost guarantee Alalphilippe will attack at some point. At least we hope so, we've set our clocks by it.

The Frenchman doesn't know how to race the big Classics without animating affairs and we sense Alaphilippe may be tempted to stretch his legs on the Koppenberg with 40km+ left to race.

Peter Sagan (Bora–Hansgrohe)

Peter Sagan is angry. Angry that with the emergence of Van der Poel, Van Aert and the like that we have stopped talking about him, treating cycling's great showman like a retired act. Sagan wants the attention again, the adulation. Sagan needs to and surely will light up Flanders on Sunday.

He's a great bike handler, with a superb ability to read a race and this uncanny ability to attack without looking like he is attacking. A Sagan victory would be popular, wouldn't it?

Tour of Flanders 2021 women's favourites

Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segadredo)

Comfortably the most exciting racer of 2021 so far, the Italian from Trek-Segafredo has been on a one-women mission to make every race she enters carnage.

From her second place at Strade Bianche to her solo win at Trofeo Alfreda Binda and most recently when she animated Gent-Wevelgem, Longo Borghini is bound to do the same at Flanders, a race she won in 2015.

With fellow former champion Lizzie Deignan and cyclocross supremo Lucinda Brand by her side, there is all the firepower a team could want on the 'Hellingen'.

Emma Norsgaard (Movistar)

Some season for the Norwegian 21-year-old so far. Her results are as follows: 2,2,11,4,2,8,2,9. Surely a victory is on the horizon? Especially considering how quick she is in a reduced bunch sprint. There are very few in the peloton that we believe would be comfortable going to the line with Norsgaard.

Even if she doesn't battle for victory, her recent form at the very least acts as proof that the women's Movistar team is more than just Annemiek van Vleuten. 

Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing)

Like Norsgaard, Belgian National Champion Kopecky is having a barnstorming season yet with only one victory, Le Samyn, is probably looking to have more to show for it.

Recently talking to Cyclist, Magnus Backstedt earmarked Kopecky as the most impressive rider in the peloton right now as far as riding on cobbles was concerned. He said she made it look easy. And Backstedt knows his cobbles.

As a Flandrian and the current Belgian National Champion, you cannot help but think Kopecky will be absolutely champing at the bit for a result on Sunday so make sure you keep your eyes on her.

Tour of Flanders 2021 women's teams

Liv Racing
Movistar
Team BikeExchange
Team DSM
Team SD Worx
Trek-Segafredo
Ale BTC Ljubljana
Canyon-Sram
FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futroscope
Jumbo-Visma
Ceratizit-WNT
Lotto-Soudal Ladies
Parkhotel Valkenburg
Tibco-SVB
Vaalcar-Travel & Service
Plantu-Pura
Bingoal Casino-Chevalmerie
Doltcini-Van Eyck
Multum Accountants
Aromitalia-Basso Bikes
Drops-Le Col Tempur
Coop-Hitec Products
A.R Monex
Massi-Tactic

Tour of Flanders: Previous female winners

2020 - Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (NED) Boels–Dolmans
2019 - Marta Bastianelli (ITA) Virtu
2018 - Anna van der Breggen (NED) Boels-Dolmans
2017 - Coryn Rivera (USA) Team Sunweb
2016 - Lizzie Deignan (GBR) Boels-Dolmans
2015 - Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA) Wiggle Honda
2014 - Ellen van Dijk (NED) Boels-Dolmans
2013 - Marianne Vos (NED) Rabobank-Liv Giant
2012 - Judith Arndt (GER) Orica-AIS
2011 - Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) Nederland bloeit
2010 - Grace Verbeke (BEL) Lotto Ladies Team
2009 - Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (GER) Team Colombia Women

Tour of Flanders 2021: Key climbs

Oude Kwaremont

The Oude Kwaremont is an important climb at the Tour of Flanders, as it appears three times over the course of the race. The final appearance is 16km from the finish, so serves as the perfect place to grind out an attack.

Although it’s not especially steep (average 4%), it is 2.2km long and has ramps up to 12%.

Paterberg

The Paterberg appears twice in the Tour of Flanders, just 3km after the Oude Kwaremont and is the final climb in the race just 13km before the finish line.

Although the Paterberg is less than 400m long, it averages just under 13% and has ramps up to 21%. This is the final place for riders to make a big attack – Fabian Cancellara used the final few metres to gap Peter Sagan in 2013, before soloing away to claim victory.

Koppenberg

Despite its infamy, the Koppenberg only appears once at the Tour of Flanders, 220km into the race. The Koppenberg is steep (average 11%, max 22%) and narrow, but with 44km of racing to go is too far away from the finish to be a likely place to mount a race-deciding attack.

That said, the racing here is manic as riders do not wish to be caught at the back, where you usually end up walking, ending your race.

Tour of Flanders: All you need to know

Page 1: Essential guide and key climbs  
Page 2: History of the race  
Page 3: Top five editions  
Page 4: Sportive ride report