Gent-Wevelgem 2014 guide
Preview of the one-day 'sprinter's Classic'
Last Updated: 29/03/14 2:28pm
The race, which will be held for the 76th time, is traditionally angled towards the fast men in the field, but there are enough climbs in the back half of the 233km route to offer plenty of scope for a late breakaway and splits in the peloton.
The number of climbs has been slightly reduced from last year, from ten to nine, but the race is unlikely to be any easier to tame.
Peter Sagan won last year's edition and returns as favourite to make it two in a row.
The first section of the race is largely flat as the peloton heads west from Deinze to the coast, and a breakaway should be allowed to go clear on this stretch.
At Adinkerke (67km) the riders swing south in search of climbs and the first of the "hellingen", as the ascents are known, arrives in the form of the Casselberg, at 114km.
A small lap around Cassel sees the climb crested twice, before the race heads into the first of two sectors that will combine to split up the race.
The first includes four climbs in quick succession, with the Catsberg (137km) being followed by the Baneberg (146km), Kemmelberg (154km) and then the Monteberg (158km).
The cobbled Kemmelberg is feared not only for its steep, 23 per cent ramps, but also the descent off the top, which has seen many crashes down the years.
The riders then have a brief break of about 25km from the climbing, before looping back around to tackle the Baneberg (185km), Kemmelberg (193km) and Monteberg (197km) for the second time.
The sprinters' teams will have to be both well-placed and alert here, as attackers will no doubt be keen to make moves on the steep Kemmelberg in particular, but also the Monteberg.
A battle between anyone who has escaped and the chasing sprint trains will then ensue on a 36km run to the finish that undulates to begin but later flattens as the finish line in Wevelgem nears.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won the race last year with a virtuoso solo ride and, having showed his fine form with victory at E3 Harelbeke on Friday, he will once again be the man to beat. Three-time champion Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) crashed out of the 2013 race but is back this year with good form and has the opportunity to triumph for the fourth time. Should he do so, he will become the race's most prolific winner.
2013: Peter Sagan (Svk)
2012: Tom Boonen (Bel)
2011: Tom Boonen (Bel)
2010: Bernhard Eisel (Aut)
2009: Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor)
2008: Oscar Freire (Spa)
2007: Marcus Burghardt (Ger)
2006: Thor Hushovd (Nor)
2005: Nico Mattan (Bel)
2004: Tom Boonen (Bel)
Watch highlights of Gent-Wevelgem on Sky Sports 3 at 10.30pm on Sunday (repeated 12.30am and 4.30am on Sky Sports 4 the next morning). All times BST.