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2017 Gent - Wevelgem (World Tour), Belgium

Ghent - Wevelgem (English), Gand - Wevelgem (French)

79th edition: Sunday, March 26, 2017

Gent-Wevelgem complete results for every edition | 2016 Edition | Race map and profile | Start list | Organizer's race preview

Deinze - Wevelgem, 249.2 km

Gent Wevelgem

Van Avermaet and Keukeleire finish well ahead of their chasers

Weather at the finish town of Wevelgem at 2:26 PM, local time: 15C (59F), Sunny, with the wind from the ENE at 18 km/hr (11 mph)

The race: Here's the report from winner Greg van Avermaet's BMC team.

Greg Van Avermaet made history by winning Gent-Wevelgem – In Flanders Fields, on the back of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Record Bank –E3 Harelbeke, the first rider to win all three Classics in the same season.

After winning two UCI WorldTour Classics in three days, Van Avermaet showed he is the hot favorite for Ronde van Vlaanderen with an aggressive ride over the 249km parcours, which ended with a nail-biting sprint against Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-SCOTT).

The day started with nine riders going clear and building a solid gap of more than seven minutes. Their advantage reduced when cross winds caused echelons in the peloton but eventually, the peloton came back together and began the chase for the breakaway.

With 88km to go, BMC Racing Team made the most of the chaotic conditions of cross winds and crashes, to put in a big push and split the peloton again into six groups.

The race came back together for a second time as the peloton approached the new addition of gravel roads, and it was here that Quickstep-Floors launched a move with a small group of serious contenders going clear.

Stefan Küng, Daniel Oss, Silvan Dillier and Loïc Vliegen put in a huge effort to bring the group back for Van Avermaet as the race entered the final 50km.

It was on the final ascent of the Kemmelberg when Van Avermaet made his move and a group of 14 riders went clear of the peloton. Approaching 20km to go, Keukeleire attacked and Van Avermaet, Nikki Terpstra (Quickstep-Floors), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) joined.

15km before the line it was just Van Avermaet and Keukeleire left at the front. The duo put in a brilliant effort to stay clear and eventually, it was Van Avermaet who took the win on the line as the peloton came storming home just six seconds behind the duo.

The Winner's Interview with Greg Van Avermaet

Greg, Congratulations! Describe your feeling right now.

“I was not expecting to win Gent-Wevelgem, but I’m really happy. It’s definitely the best start of the season that I’ve ever had. I’ve won three Classics already so it’s an amazing feeling. It’s never easy to win these races and normally Gent-Wevelgem isn’t so much of a race for me. I tried so many times to win here and now I’ve won three all in one season. It’s a wonderful feeling and it gives me extra confidence for Ronde van Vlaanderen.”

It was a chaotic day with cross winds and crashes but you had the team there to protect you in crucial moments. How was it out there?

“The guys, like Stefan Küng and Loïc Vliegen, did a great job to bring Quickstep-Floors back when they went away on the gravel roads. Daniel Oss was strong too the whole day. It was a really hard race for sure and you need a strong team in these races.”

You attacked and created the final selection on the Kemmelberg. Was this the plan?

“The Kemmelberg is always a point when everyone wants to go and I felt really strong there. I hoped to get a good group with me and that’s what happened. Then we went way with strong guys. I was riding really hard the whole time because sometimes when you do a small pull you lose less energy than when you have to close gaps. In a race like this you can’t say we are not going to ride with 20km to go. You have to keep going the whole time. That’s what happened with Jens Keukeleire and I when it was just the two of us. The whole last 10km we weren’t speaking, it was just head down and going as fast as we could. It was a great win and the race was really perfect.”

Three big wins must put you in a fantastic position for Ronde van Vlaanderen?

“For sure. I don’t think I can say anymore that I’m not the favorite. These wins give me extra confidence before next Sunday. I said on Friday that I can beat anyone in the sprint on a hard race. Now we look to Ronde van Vlaanderen and I’m going to give it everything I have.”

Fabio Baldato, Sports Director: “When you have a strong leader like Greg, who has already won big races, it brings the level up. Everyone gave everything today. Greg wanted to have a hard race so we tried to move and to attack and when we missed the move, the guys were really strong and closed the gap. It was perfect. Our race plan was to race aggressively and not take too many risks that would make the race come down to a sprint. Greg is super strong and there’s not many riders who can do what he does.”

“I hope the success continues to Ronde van Vlaanderen. For sure, Greg is the favorite now. We all need to step up to Greg’s level and do the best we can to put him in the position to win on Sunday.”

Complete Results:

249.2 kilometers raced at an average speed of 44.095 km/hr

1 Greg VAN AVERMAET BMC 5hr 39min 5sec
2 Jens KEUKELEIRE Orica-Scott s.t.
3 Peter SAGAN Bora-hansgrohe @ 6sec
4 Niki TERPSTRA Quick-Step s.t.
5 John DEGENKOLB Trek-Segafredo s.t.
6 Tom BOONEN Quick-Step s.t.
7 Jens DEBUSSCHERE Lotto Soudal s.t.
8 Michael MATTHEWS Sunweb s.t.
9 Fernando GAVIRIA Quick-Step s.t.
10 Sacha MODOLO UAE Abu Dhabi s.t.
11 Maxime VANTOMME WB Veranclassic s.t.
12 Bert VAN LERBERGHE Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise s.t.
13 Sonny COLBRELLI Bahrain-Merida s.t.
14 Juraj SAGAN Bora-hansgrohe s.t.
15 Christophe LAPORTE Cofidis s.t.
16 Søren Kragh ANDERSEN Sunweb s.t.
17 Sam BENNETT Bora-hansgrohe s.t.
18 Jos VAN EMDEN Lotto NL-Jumbo s.t.
19 Edward THEUNS Trek-Segafredo s.t.
20 Guillaume VAN KEIRSBULCK Wanty-Groupe Gobert s.t.
21 Ian STANNARD Sky s.t.
22 Oliver NAESEN Ag2r La Mondiale s.t.
23 Coen VERMELTFOORT Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij s.t.
24 Daniele BENNATI Movistar s.t.
25 Marco MARCATO UAE Abu Dhabi s.t.
26 Luka MEZGEC Orica-Scott s.t.
27 Loïc VLIEGEN BMC s.t.
28 Jasha SÜTTERLIN Movistar s.t.
29 Scott THWAITES Dimension Data s.t.
30 Yoann OFFREDO Wanty-Groupe Gobert s.t.
31 Nikolas MAES Lotto Soudal s.t.
32 Alberto BETTIOL Cannondale Drapac s.t.
33 MICHAEL VALGREN ANDERSEN Astana s.t.
34 Hugo HOULE Ag2r La Mondiale s.t.
35 Bram TANKINK Lotto NL-Jumbo s.t.
36 Hugo Hofstetter Cofidis s.t.
37 NICCOLO' BONIFAZIO Bahrain-Merida s.t.
38 Dries VAN GESTEL Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise s.t.
39 Daniel OSS BMC s.t.
40 ANDREY GRIVKO Astana s.t.
41 Jurgen ROELANDTS Lotto Soudal s.t.
42 Silvan DILLIER BMC s.t.
43 Mitch DOCKER Orica-Scott @ 13sec
44 Edvald BOASSON HAGEN Dimension Data s.t.
45 Koen DE KORT Trek-Segafredo s.t.
46 Jasper STUYVEN Trek-Segafredo s.t.
47 Christopher JUUL JENSEN Orica-Scott s.t.
48 Julien VERMOTE Quick-Step s.t.
49 Yves LAMPAERT Quick-Step s.t.
50 Fabio FELLINE Trek-Segafredo s.t.
51 Matteo TRENTIN Quick-Step s.t.
52 Zdenek ŠTYBAR Quick-Step s.t.
53 Dimitri CLAEYS Cofidis s.t.
54 Luka PIBERNIK Bahrain-Merida @ 30sec
55 Tom VAN ASBROECK Cannondale Drapac +1:20
56 Marcel SIEBERG Lotto Soudal +1:32
57 Robert Thomas WAGNER Lotto NL-Jumbo +7:26
58 Pim LIGTHART Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij s.t.
59 Julien DUVAL Ag2r La Mondiale s.t.
60 Elmar REINDERS Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij s.t.
61 Laurens DE VREESE Astana s.t.
62 Moreno HOFLAND Lotto Soudal s.t.
63 Huub DUYN Veranda's Willems-Crelan s.t.
64 Iljo KEISSE Quick-Step s.t.
65 Francisco Jose VENTOSO BMC s.t.
66 Jay Robert THOMSON Dimension Data s.t.
67 Carlos BARBERO Movistar s.t.
68 Rick ZABEL Katusha Alpecin s.t.
69 Viacheslav KUZNETSOV Katusha Alpecin s.t.
70 Mark MCNALLY Wanty-Groupe Gobert s.t.
71 Simone CONSONNI UAE Abu Dhabi s.t.
72 Ryan MULLEN Cannondale Drapac s.t.
73 Alexander KRISTOFF Katusha Alpecin s.t.
74 Andrea PASQUALON Wanty-Groupe Gobert s.t.
75 Kenneth VAN ROOY Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise s.t.
76 Bernhard EISEL Dimension Data s.t.
77 Dennis VAN WINDEN Israel Cycling Academy s.t.
78 Arnaud DEMARE FDJ s.t.
79 Mike TEUNISSEN Sunweb s.t.
80 Dylan GROENEWEGEN Lotto NL-Jumbo s.t.
81 Amund Grondahl JANSEN Lotto NL-Jumbo s.t.
82 Stefan KÜNG BMC s.t.
83 Borut BOZIC Bahrain-Merida s.t.
84 Jelle WALLAYS Lotto Soudal s.t.
85 Baptiste PLANCKAERT Katusha Alpecin s.t.
86 Dmitriy GRUZDEV Astana s.t.
87 Preben VAN HECKE Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise s.t.
88 Raymond KREDER Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij s.t.
89 Berden DE VRIES Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij s.t.
90 Dylan TEUNS BMC s.t.
91 Gediminas BAGDONAS Ag2r La Mondiale s.t.
92 Héctor CARRETERO Movistar s.t.
93 Marcus BURGHARDT Bora-hansgrohe s.t.
94 Maciej BODNAR Bora-hansgrohe s.t.
95 Lars BOOM Lotto NL-Jumbo s.t.
96 Tyler FARRAR Dimension Data s.t.
97 Dylan VAN BAARLE Cannondale Drapac s.t.
98 Mathew HAYMAN Orica-Scott s.t.
99 Sebastian LANGEVELD Cannondale Drapac s.t.
100 Florian SENECHAL Cofidis s.t.
101 Caleb EWAN Orica-Scott s.t.
102 Wesley KREDER Wanty-Groupe Gobert s.t.
103 Michael MORKOV Katusha Alpecin +13:47
104 Ivan GARCIA Bahrain-Merida s.t.
105 Federico ZURLO UAE Abu Dhabi s.t.
106 Olivier LE GAC FDJ s.t.
107 Mickael DELAGE FDJ s.t.
108 Loic CHETOUT Cofidis s.t.
109 Lukasz WISNIOWSKI Sky s.t.
110 Christian KNEES Sky s.t.
111 Christophe MASSON WB Veranclassic s.t.
112 Gregory RAST Trek-Segafredo s.t.
113 Tony MARTIN Katusha Alpecin s.t.
114 Edward PLANCKAERT Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise +13:51
115 Gianni MOSCON Sky +13:52

Course map and profile:

2017 course map and profile

2017 Gent-Wevelgem course map

course profile

2017 Gent Wevelgem course profile

Start list with back numbers, March 25:

BORA-HANSGROHE
1 SAGAN Peter
2 BENNETT Sam
3 BODNAR Maciej
4 BURGHARDT Marcus
5 KOLAR Michal
6 SAGAN Juraj
7 SARAMOTINS Aleksejs
8 SCHILLINGER Andreas
QUICK-STEP FLOORS
11 BOONEN Tom
12 LAMPAERT Yves
13 DEVENYNS Dries
14 GAVIRIA Fernando
15 KEISSE Iljo
16 STYBAR Zdenek
17 TERPSTRA Niki
18 TRENTIN Matteo
LOTTO - SOUDAL
21 DEBUSSCHERE Jens
22 ROELANDTS Jurgen
23 MAES Nikolas
24 FRISON Frederik
25 HOFLAND Moreno
26 WALLAYS Jelle
27 BAK Lars Ytting
28 SIEBERG Marcel
BMC
31 VAN AVERMAET Greg
32 DILLIER Silvan
33 OSS Daniel
34 QUINZIATO Manuel
35 TEUNS Dylan
36 KÜNG Stefan
37 VENTOSO Francisco José
38 VLIEGEN Loïc
AG2R LA MONDIALE
41 NAESEN Oliver
42 VANDENBERGH Stijn
43 DENZ Nico
44 DUVAL Julien
45 GOUGEARD Alexis
46 HOULE Hugo
47 BARBIER Rudy
48 BAGDONAS Gediminas
ASTANA
51 BRESCHEL Matti
52 DE VREESE Laurens
53 GATTO Oscar
54 GRIVKO Andriy
55 GRUZDEV Dmitriy
56 LUTSENKO Alexey
57 TLEUBAYEV Ruslan
58 VALGREN ANDERSEN Michael
BAHRAIN - MERIDA
61 FENG Chun Kai
62 BONIFAZIO Niccolo
63 BOZIC Borut
64 COLBRELLI Sonny
65 GARCIA CORTINA Ivan
66 INSAUSTI Jon
67 PER David
68 PIBERNIK Luka
CANNONDALE-DRAPAC
72 VAN ASBROECK Tom
73 KOREN Kristjan
74 SCULLY Thomas
75 LANGEVELD Sebastian
76 VAN BAARLE Dylan
77 MULLEN Ryan
78 WIPPERT Wouter
FDJ
81 DEMARE Arnaud
82 DELAGE Mickael
83 GUARNIERI Jacopo
84 MANZIN Lorrenzo
85 KONOVALOVAS Ignatas
86 LADAGNOUS Matthieu
87 LE GAC Olivier
88 SARREAU Marc
MOVISTAR
91 ARCAS Jorge
92 BARBERO Carlos
93 BICO Nuno Miguel Alves
94 BETANCUR Carlos Alberto
95 CARRETERO Hector
96 PEDRERO Antonio
97 SÜTTERLIN Jasha
98 BENNATI Daniele
ORICA - SCOTT
101 KEUKELEIRE Jens
102 HAYMAN Mathew
103 EWAN Caleb
104 JUUL JENSEN Christopher
105 DOCKER Mitchell
106 KLUGE Roger
107 MEZGEC Luka
108 CORT NIELSEN Magnus
DIMENSION DATA
111 REGUIGUI Youcef
112 BOASSON HAGEN Edvald
113 DOUGALL Nick
114 EISEL Bernhard
115 FARRAR Tyler
116 RENSHAW Mark
117 THOMSON Jay Robert
118 THWAITES Scott
KATUSHA-ALPECIN
121 MARTIN Tony
122 PLANCKAERT Baptiste
123 KRISTOFF Alexander
124 KUZNETSOV Vyacheslav
125 HALLER Marco
126 MORKOV Michael
127 BYSTROM Sven Erik
128 ZABEL Rick
LOTTO NL - JUMBO
131 BOOM Lars
132 GROENDAHL JANSEN Amund
133 GROENEWEGEN Dylan
134 LEEZER Tom
135 TANKINK Bram
136 VAN EMDEN Jos
137 WAGNER Robert
138 VAN HOECKE Gijs
TEAM SKY
141 ROWE Luke
142 STANNARD Ian
143 DOULL Owain
144 KNEES Christian
145 MOSCON Gianni
146 DIBBEN Jonathan
147 VAN POPPEL Danny
148 WISNIOWSKI Lukasz
TEAM SUNWEB
151 DE BACKER Bert
152 WAEYTENS Zico
153 CURVERS Roy
154 ANDERSEN Søren Kragh
155 MATTHEWS Michael
156 SINKELDAM Ramon
157 TEUNISSEN Mike
158 ARNDT Nikias
TREK-SEGAFREDO
161 STUYVEN Jasper
162 THEUNS Edward
163 DEGENKOLB John
164 FELLINE Fabio
165 VAN POPPEL Boy
166 RAST Grégory
167 REIJNEN Kiel
168 DE KORT Koen
UAE - TEAM EMIRATES
171 CONSONNI Simone
172 GANNA Filippo
173 KUMP Marko
174 LAENGEN Vegard Stake
175 MARCATO Marco
176 MODOLO Sacha
177 TROIA Oliviero
178 ZURLO Federico
SPORT VLAANDEREN-BALOISE
181 VAN GESTEL Dries
182 FARAZIJN Maxime
183 PLANCKAERT Edward
184 VAN HECKE Preben
185 STEELS Stijn
186 VAN LERBERGHE Bert
187 VAN ROOY Kenneth
188 WALLAYS Jens
WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
191 VAN KEIRSBULCK Guillaume
193 DEVRIENDT Tom
194 KREDER Wesley
195 PASQUALON Andrea
196 STENUIT Robin
197 VANSPEYBROUCK Pieter
198 DEHAES Kenny
199 MCNALLY Mark
VERANDA'S WILLEMS-CRELAN
201 DEVOLDER Stijn
202 CORDEEL Sander
203 DE BONDT Dries
204 BILLE Gaetan
205 DUYN Huub
206 DUPONT Timothy
207 GOOLAERTS Michael
208 KRUOPIS Aidis
COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CRÉDITS
211 CHETOUT Loïc
212 CLAEYS Dimitri
213 HOFSTETTER Hugo
214 LAPORTE Christophe
215 LEMOINE Cyril
216 SENECHAL Florian
217 VAN STAEYEN Michael
218 VAN BILSEN Kenneth
WB-VERANCLASSIC AQUALITY PROTECT
221 DE WINTER Ludwig
222 ISTA Kevin
223 JANS Roy
224 KIRSCH Alex
225 NAESEN Lawrence
226 MASSON Christophe
227 STASSEN Julien
228 VANTOMME Maxime
ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY
231 BOIVIN Guillaume
232 DEMPSTER Zakkari
233 LOWNDES Jason
234 PERRY Benjamin
235 RÄIM Mihkel
236 VAN WINDEN Dennis
237 WILLIAMS Tyler
238 YECHZKEL Aviv
ROOMPOT-NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
241 ASSELMAN Jesper
242 DE VRIES Berden
243 KREDER Raymond
244 LIGTHART Pim
245 LOOIJ André
246 VERMELTFOORT Coen
247 REINDERS Elmar
248 VAN DER HOORN Taco

November 11, 2016:

The race organizer put out this release describing the 2017 route:

Ghent-Wevelgem 2017: looking back at one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of war.

Ghent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields travels once again along the Flemish Fields that were once the backdrop of the Great War on Sunday, 26 March 2017. The contest pays tribute with its itinerary to the 600.000 victims who met their demise in Flanders Fields. A detour will be made through the Plugstreets, in and around Ploegsteert, to commemorate the Christmas ceasefire of 1914.

Life on the Western Front was certainly no joke in the winter of 1914. Both combating sides (the allies on the one side and Germany on the other side) had dug themselves in after the war ended in a stalemate. The Northern European landscape looked quite remarkable: there were two opposing trench systems reaching from the North Sea coast to the Swiss border with no man's land and barbed wire fences in between. More or less permanent facilities were erected on both sides, such as underground rooms, shelters, stoves and toilets. It was freezing on the Western Front on Christmas Eve 1914. No further offensives were therefore expected. Both sides tried to make the best of it.

The Germans started to celebrate Christmas first: there was some drinking and here and there a Christmas tree appeared or a lantern above the trenches. Somewhere a soldier began to sing Silent Night, Holy Night. The British felt they had to do something in return and sang ‘The First Noel’. The Germans applauded and then commenced with ‘O Tannenbaum’ and so it carried on.

The following day, on Christmas Day, soldiers came out of their trenches from both sides on the front. Field services were held in full view of the enemy without a single shot being fired. Both parties waved to one another and a few brave soldiers walked into no man's land to greet one another. Small groups were initially formed; the groups then became bigger until hundreds of soldiers eventually stood by one another in some places. They were shaking hands; they offered one another a light and exchanged gifts: cigarettes, sausages and cigars, canned stew, tobacco and London newspapers.

In some places they even played some football. The most legendary match was between the British and the Germans in the Saint-Yvon region, near Ploegsteert. The Germans won with 3-2. The UEFA Christmas Truce Monument was inaugurated by Michel Platini in Komen-Waasten on 11 December 2014.

This spontaneous ceasefire was obviously much to the displeasure of the commanders. It affected the discipline; soldiers could indeed come to think that the enemy was also only human. The carefully crafted image of the enemy had to be preserved at all cost. Both sides carried out justified measures in order to avoid this in the future. Nevertheless, there was already a twinning again during the Christmas of 1915, though on a smaller scale. The army leadership was furious, once again. In the autumn of 1916, orders were drawn up with a command to execute those who fraternized. There was no more ceasefire that winter and also not in the one of 1917.

However, there was a moment of peace on earth in 1914. The guns and cannons fell silent for a moment. There was room for Christmas just for a short while; for a little bit of camaraderie and humanity.

There has never been talk of such a spontaneous rapprochement between the besieged during any other conflict. It is and remains one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of war.

“Christmas Eve was celebrated this way in a fraternal mood. The Germans brought nice things. They also had plenty of wine. Our soldiers could offer nothing in return. As the hours passed, everyone pulled back to his trench and soon gunfire crackled again No man’s land. [...] There was an investigation, the military tribunal got involved and the station commander was called to account. Second Lieutenant Naviau, a Walloon, got demoted. One must leave the soldiers well alone.” (Belgian soldier Rik Reynaerts)

Hans De Clercq, sports manager at Ghent-Wevelgem: We enjoy a massive exposure as World Tour Tier 1 competition. Ghent-Wevelgem In Flanders Fields is broadcast around the world; from Norway to Australia, from Mexico to Thailand.
By integrating the Plugstreets in the itinerary, there will be combat once again, although this time, luckily, by bicycle. In addition, we also pay tribute to the victims and the viewer can commemorate the fallen in an appropriate manner.
We would therefore like to be the link between the sport in the year 2017 and the unfortunate past of 100 years ago. ‘Let us never forget how they combated for us!

Plugstreets:

‘This pertains to 3 strips, semi-paved roads, or otherwise called Green Roads, with a total distance of 5,2 kilometres. The first two strips are slightly sloping and are located in open plains where the wind will have free reign. At the entrance to the 2nd strip is the Christmas Truce Monument that reflects the symbolism of the Christmas ceasefire of 1914.’

‘Integrating this strip between the two Kemmel climbs will provide additional nervousness. There will be less opportunity to recover. The competition will not be ‘won’ here, but the chaff will be further separated from the wheat.’

A special detour - “Plugstreet 14-18 Experience”

In order to reach this historic place, the peloton will make a detour on so-called ‘Green Roads’ – roads that are constructed by means of a special process and that are water- and air permeable.

These semi-paved roads consist only of hard stone granules with a 100% natural binder. This binder is activated every time anew when there is contact with water. Hence, completely ecological. More information can be found on: http://www.greenroad.be/nl/werkwijze/

Three Green Roads have been included in the itinerary; we call them ‘Plugstreets’ after the WWI experience centre built in Ploegsteert: “Plugstreet 14-18 Experience”. Ploegsteert was called “Plugstreet” by the British. The centre is reminiscent of the battle, but also the suffering, the British and German military losses, the insecurity of the population faced with the occupation, the mass departure and so much more. Exceptional iconographic documents illustrate the dangerous and difficult society of soldiers and civilians. Other documents show relaxation, friendship, fraternity and the surprising Christmas Peace of December 1914 in Saint-Yvon.

There are numerous, easily accessible memorial sites in the vicinity of the “Plugstreet 14-18 Experience”, such as the British Memorial of Ploegsteert (for the commemoration of 11.447 missing persons, killed on the more southern front line), the British cemeteries, the memorials and memorial stones and so on ...

Concrete racing course itinerary change

The first Kemmelberg climb is over. 14 km and after passing the Monteberg, the village of Wulvergem with several British cemeteries and the Kraaiberg en Mesenberg hills, the peloton will reach Mesen. The course itinerary changes just after passing the impressive Irish Peace Tower. Once in the Ploegsteert territory, we will ride, quite appropriately, onto the Bondgenotenweg. ‘Plugstreet 1’ starts just past the ‘Irish Farm’ on the left.

Plugstreet 1 is the Hutteberg, also known as Hill 63. A strategic vantage point on the hill crest of Mesen and the underlying Heuvelland (hill country). The Catacombs are situated underneath the Hutteberg, an enormous dugout with 19 corridors, 1.200 beds and one-way traffic. The sports area is 2,1 km long and consists of a little hill and in the descent a treacherous chicane, near the ruins of the destroyed Breuvart castle, former observation post of the British.

The “Plugstreet 2” is reached after 800 meters of asphalt; one turns right at the Christmas Ceasefire: called Mud Lane in WWI, now luckily a half-paved road with six British cemeteries nearby. There is also a memorial along this road of the famous British rugby player Ronald Poulton Palmer. We ride onto the main road again after 1,3 km.

The stunning British Memorial casts its shadow on the peloton 250 meters further. Covering the same distance again, one turns to the right into the Munquestraat; 400 meters further, once again to the right, to “Plug Street 3”. The last Green Road is 0,6 km long and passes through the Ploegsteert woods.

The complete zone is 5,7 km long of which 4 km is half-paved. We reach Nieuwkerke via the ‘Rosenberg’ and ‘De Trompe’ hills and we join the course itinerary of 2016. In this zone you will imagine yourself being in London at times. The British wanted to feel at home and so you will find: The Strand, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street and Hyde Park Corner.