Dwars door Vlaanderen – A travers la Flandre 2023

The last time to test your legs on the cobbles ahead of Ronde van Vlaanderen.


The route has changed once more. It shouldn’t change the race completely.

Here is where you need to turn on the TV. Berg Ten Houte (1000m at 6.4%, cobbled) and Kanarieberg (950m at 8.5%). The move often goes here. A group of six went clear here in 2022, a bit surprising without Pogacar.

The two climbs are followed by Knokteberg – Trieu and Hotond before getting down to Mariaborrestraat and Ladouze.

Now, this is where the route is different. They will go the opposite direction of the small lap in the finale.

In 2022, the went counterclockwise, meaning the finale was in this order: Doorn, Nokereberg, Herlegemstraat and Holstraat.

In 2023, it is clockwise. This means Nokereberg, Herlegemstraat, Nokere and Herlegemstraat. What does this mean? More cobbles inside the final 30 km.


Better weather than in E3. We will see local rain showers with the wind blowing 4-5 m/s from the south.

If we break it down, that is good news for the attackers. Despite a headwind over the top of Berg Ten Houte (1000m at 6.4%, cobbled) it means mainly crosswind or tailwind from the bottom of the climb to the line (72% of the way to the line).

How will the stage unfold?

Since only Alpecin-Fenix so far have managed to adapt to JV tactics, and they are here without the A-team, it is time to look another round of “What will Jumbo-Visma do?”

The race usually starts around Berg Ten Houte (1000m at 6.4%, cobbled) and Kanarieberg (950m at 8.5%). If this moves does not make it, the riders will have to go on Côte de Trieu (1400m at 6.8). This is a Tiesj Benoot climb. No matter how they want to approach this, Benoot and Laporte should be in the front group together. Laporte will not contribute sitting in the peloton, waiting for a sprint against the likes of Phillipsen. The thing is, could the finale start even sooner? The riders have a tailwind the first time up Côte de Trieu and Kortekeer. Throw in Trek-Segafredo too. I doubt they want a bunch sprint either.

What kind of race does the other strong teams want? INEOS are back with Pidcock plus having Ganna, Narvaez, Sheffield and Turner here. They don’t want a sprint. FDJ bring a strong team too with Küng, Madouas and Geniets. They don’t want a sprint. The three best teams do not want a sprint.

So who wants a sprint? Alpecin-Deceunick, Soudal-QuickStep and Lotto Dstny. Those are three strong teams. What often happens is they figure out too late they want a sprint and they will always be saving riders “who is the lead-out rider” instead of starting ensuring a sprint.


Jumbo-Visma – The two captains are Laporte and Benoot. Set up the attack on Côte de Trieu (94 km left) or wait for the more typical scenario, Berg Ten Houte. The optimal scenario would be having one extra rider with them from the team. I just can’t see who. Kooij will stay behind, see if it becomes a sprint. He is in mighty good form. The two of them will then decide how to approach the finale. Benoot had a DNF in E3 for no particular reason. He had a puncture before Taaienberg and may just be saving himself. JV Twitter does not tell. Their best option from a reduced sprint is Laporte.

INEOS – back with Pidcock, who has missed some training, he will not be at his Strade-Bianche level. A concussion sets you back. Last year, it was them setting up the attack on Berg Ten Houte and they were the team with two riders out in front, only managing a 3rd place. Ganna had a crash in GW with a mild swelling afterwards. Narvaez, Sheffield and Turner get a lot of praise but their results currently don’t reflect very good form. I don’t have high hopes for the team tomorrow. I hope they prove me wrong.

FDJ – I love their squad. Küng is looking better and better, despite not being able to change gears due to freezing fingers. 6th in E3 is a good result, he will be up there tomorrow. Geniets has been on my radar for some time now. His start to the season leaves a good impression. Madouas was 8th in E3, which is a strong result too. I think they start as the second strongest team tomorrow.

Trek-Segafredo – I expect a good performance from Pedersen yet again. I think the main problems seems to be the cobbled climbs. We do not have that many of those tomorrow. Without the big three, he will have a much better chance competing for the win. Stuyven has been mighty unlucky with a crash in E3 before Kortekeer and not having the best day in GW either

Powless – he keeps making good results for himself. How well will he do in a cobbled classic? 5th at Worlds 2021 in Belgium and 4th at the cobbled stage in Le Tour 2022. I think he will go well. He will make the front group.

Fred Wright – getting better and better. I think it suits him with less cobbles. He will not be riding for Mohoric today, it is time to see what he can do on his own.

Phillipsen – sprint option if Alpecin manage to get it back together.

De Lie – sprint option for Lotto-Soudal. Four punctures in GW put him out of the race a few days ago.

Merlier – sprint option for QuickStep if Loulou still has not found the legs.

Who will win?

Three strong teams wanting cheering for the mouse, three strong teams cheering for the cat. Then you put Trek-Segafredo and UAE in the middle.

It is hard to look past JV, Laporte is the best rider here for this race. Benoot with five top-10’s in seven tries. FDJ are the ones to match them in terms of numbers. I will pick Mads Pedersen. He will be the fastest rider in the front group, he is cunning as a fox and the form seems to be going in the right direction after the cold.

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