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Gent-Wevelgem to start from Ypres from next year

Joseph Delves
5 Sep 2019

Spring Classic to retain its name but ditch its current start point for a 50km shift to the southwest

Flemish one-day Classic Gent-Wevelgem will start in Ypres rather than the now-familiar starting point of Deinze from next year. The move follows an agreement between the city and organisers of the WorldTour event that covers the next six years.

'We’re very proud of this collaboration,' said Emmily Talpe, mayor of the city of Ypres in response to the news.

'It puts Ypres on the international map after the previous WW1 commemorations. The media attention for such a race is immense.'

Run by Flanders Classics, Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported that the deal will see the town of Ypres pay 100,000 euros each year, an amount that will also increase annually by 10,000 euros.

With the race passing several battlefields, the new route aims to reinforce its connection with the area’s First World War history. First run in 1934, the event started edging away from its titular point some years ago.

Since 2004, instead of beginning in Ghent the race has instead started in the town of Deinze, 15 kilometres to the southwest. Ypres is a further 50km in the same direction.

In 2015, the race was also renamed Gent–Wevelgem – In Flanders Fields, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War. As noble an intention as this might have been, outside the race’s PR team no one has ever called it anything other than Gent-Wevelgem, except for a few English speakers who go with 'Gent-Bubblegum'.

Poor early-season weather and high-winds often play a part in dictating its result, though the race is generally thought of as a race for sprinters due to its flat profile. This latest course change shouldn’t alter its character, since the race’s profile and key sections will remain unchanged.

The 2019 edition was won by Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates), with the next edition is scheduled for Sunday 29th March.

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