Ana Linden

Ghent-Wevelgem 2016 preview

Our essential guide to the Belgian Classic, which will see another rider add their name to prestigious list of winners

Ghent-Wevelgem 2016 Preview

Cycling fans have extra reason to celebrate Easter Sunday (March 27) this year, as that day will host key WorldTour1-ranked Classic Ghent-Wevelgem2. Set to go ahead despite the recent terrorist attack in Brussels3, the race will be the last of three popular Belgian cobbled classics in the space of five days, following Wednesday s Dwars Door Vlaanderen4 and Friday s E3 Harelbeke5. Last year s edition was an extraordinary spectacle6, as gale force winds and rainy conditions blew the race apart. Echelons formed very early in the race and set-up a rollercoaster battle between a select group of riders, while others were literally blown off their bikes7 from the wind, and only 39 of the 200 participating riders made it to the finish.

There s unlikely to be a repeat of those scenes this year, as the weather is forecast to be nowhere near as extreme. Consequently, we should expect a race more in line with how Ghent-Wevelgem usually pans out a finely tuned balance between those hoping to win from a bunch sprint, and those hoping for an attack to stick. The balance looks to have swung a little towards the attackers, as this edition will see the riders take on the steeper side of the Kemmelberg8 for the first time in 22 years. Situated 34km from the finish, and described as one of the most difficult bergs in Belgium even when climbed from its easier side, the Kemmelberg is the climb most synonymous with Ghent-Wevelgem, and the best platform for an attacker to make their move with an excruciating maximum gradient of 23% (up from 17% on the previously-used side).

>>> Iconic Places: The Kemmelberg in Ghent-Wevelgem9

This increased difficulty will help any attacking puncheurs and roleurs, but what makes this race suited to sprinters is the 34km of flat terrain that follows its peak. Sprinters teams have brought the race back together for a bunch sprint on this final stretch in five of the previous ten editions, and therefore riders with a quick finish will go into the race as favourites.

Ghent-Wevelgem 2016 Preview

Luca Paolini took the win at last year s Ghent-Wevelgem, but has since tested positive for cocaine Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Alexander Kristoff10 (Katusha) looks ideally suited, as a bunch sprint specialist who consistently gets over the climbs. He ll be eager to land a big win having missed out in Milan-San Remo11 last week despite making it to the Via Roma the lead group. Similarly Peter Sagan12 (Tinkoff) is likely to be one the quickest sprinters to survive the race s ten climbs and compete in a potential bunch finish although he won the 2013 edition13 with a solo attack. Sprinters Mark Cavendish14 (Dimension Data) and Andr Greipel15 (Lotto-Soudal) are both generally quicker in a sprint, and therefore stand a chance, but have in the past missed out on the chance to sprint for victory due to the severity of the cobbles and climbs.

Instead, sprinters like Milan-San Remo victor Arnaud D mare16 (FDJ), Dwars Door Vlaanderen winner Jens Debusschere17 (Lotto-Soudal) and runner-up Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie).

Watch: Tour of Flanders 2016 preview

One sprinter who can t be discounted is 21-year old Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep). The Colombian has been winning sprints at a canter this season, and defied expectations by remaining at the front of the race by the end of his first ever Milan-San Remo, only to crash in the finale18. He mistimed his sprint in a similar position at Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, but is he can get his finish right this time he ll be difficult to stop.

Etixx-QuickStep19 contain plenty of other riders who would prefer to animate the race, including Niki Terpstra, Zdenek Stybar and three-time winner Tom Boonen20. Along with the likes of Fabian Cancellara21 (Trek-Segafredo) Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) and the on-form Greg Van Avermaet22 (BMC), they ll be eager to make attacks. Sky also bring a strong team, with Ian Stannard23 and Luke Rowe24 likely to attack, and Elia Viviani included in case the race does boil down to a bunch sprint. However the race plays out, we should see a Sky rider at least in contention for the win.

Ghent-Wevelgem 2016 Preview

Gent-Wevelgem 2016: Teams

Ag2r La Mondiale (France)
Astana (Kazakhstan)
Bardiani-CSF (Italy)
Cannondale (USA)
CCC Sprandi-Polkowice (Poland)
Cofidis (France)
Dimension Data (RSA)
Direct Energie (France)
Etixx-QuickStep (Belgium)
FDJ (France)
Giant-Alpecin (Germany)
IAM Cycling (Switzerland)
Katusha (Russia)
Lampre-Merida (Italy)
Lotto-Soudal (Belgium)
LottoNL-Jumbo (Netherlands)
Movistar (Spain)
Orica-GreenEdge (Australia)
Roompot Oranje Peloton (Netherlands)
Team Sky (Great Britain)
Tinkoff (Russia)
Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise (Belgium)
Trek-Segafredo (USA)
Wanty-Groupe Gobert (Belgium)

Gent-Wevelgem: Recent winners

2015: Luca Paolini (Katusha)
2014: John Degenkolb
2013: Peter Sagan
2012: Tom Boonen
2011: Tom Boonen
2010: Bernhard Eisel
2009: Edvald Boasson-Hagen
2008: Oscar Freire
2007: Marcus Burghardt
2006: Thor Hushovd

Gent-Wevelgem: Last year s top 10 (2015)

1. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha in 6-20-55
2. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx-QuickStep at 0-11
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at same time
4. Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep at 0-18
5. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto-Soudal at 0-26
6. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0-40
7. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto-Soudal at 1-51

Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing at 4-15

Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 6-54

Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at same time


  1. ^ WorldTour (
  2. ^ Classic Ghent-Wevelgem (
  3. ^ despite the recent terrorist attack in Brussels (
  4. ^ Dwars Door Vlaanderen (
  5. ^ E3 Harelbeke (
  6. ^ an extraordinary spectacle (
  7. ^ literally blown off their bikes (
  8. ^ steeper side of the Kemmelberg (
  9. ^ >>> Iconic Places: The Kemmelberg in Ghent-Wevelgem (
  10. ^ Alexander Kristoff (
  11. ^ Milan-San Remo (
  12. ^ Peter Sagan (
  13. ^ he won the 2013 edition (
  14. ^ Mark Cavendish (
  15. ^ Andr Greipel (
  16. ^ victor Arnaud D mare (
  17. ^ winner Jens Debusschere (
  18. ^ crash in the finale (
  19. ^ Etixx-QuickStep (
  20. ^ Tom Boonen (
  21. ^ Fabian Cancellara (
  22. ^ Greg Van Avermaet (
  23. ^ Ian Stannard (
  24. ^ Luke Rowe (

Picture (Im)Perfect | Ana Linden

Picture (Im)Perfect | Ana Linden

I still feel sorry for the photographer who used to take my picture once every couple of years or so when I was a child. God forbid my mother framed anything but a picture of professional perfection of me. You know how some children hate the dentist s and parents have to drag them there under false pretext well, once in a while, I d get to wear my best and most uncomfortable dress, awfully oversized bows, shiny patent leather shoes and I would be tricked into having my picture taken. Don t get me wrong, I don t mind being photographed, I simply never liked posing. That s why I still feel sorry for the poor man, he certainly had his work cut out for him. As usual, getting me to look natural while sitting on the ugly, uncomfortable chair, staring at the camera was a demanding, time consuming, frustrating experience. I had offered my own suggestions, but they had been blatantly disregarded, so he had to deal with my attitude as well.

But somehow he managed to get a decent shot, all the people waiting outside (whose appointments had been pushed back because of me) were only mildly angry, so everybody was happy. Almost everybody Clearly, I was not going to be the only child in the room that day. We were ready to leave, my mother announced. Sure, why not just leave? After all, the child is all everybody cares about these days She doesn t mean anything to anybody anymore nobody wants to photograph her . nobody wants to frame her picture Yes, my grandmother was throwing a tantrum, as she had her heart set on having her picture taken as well (I would have gladly traded places). So that s what the new hairdo and the elegant outfit were all about.

One more picture, my mother pleaded with the photographer just one pretty please pretty please with a seductive smile on top Well ok, but just the one, he was pressed for time. In the blink of an eye, my grandmother put a doting arm around my shoulder, the photographer adjusted everything, I heard the snap and that was it! My grandmother got her picture and I got mine! I looked adorable, she looked respectable, elegant and loving and the little ugly doll I managed to sneak out of my pocket and hold up right in the centre of the photo looked hilariously horrendous. Rage, outrage and pouting for several days followed, the picture was deemed unworthy of being framed, but I swear, it was all worth it especially considering that the punishment I received was, No more professional photos for you, missy!

Had I only known that was all it took

You look so happy here that must have been such a great trip/birthday/holiday.. Yet I knew what he reality behind those picture perfect moments was, the same I knew there was nothing honest about them. I remember looking at those pictures they were pretty, I looked nice, everybody looked happy, but somehow, I felt I didn t recognize the faces. They may not have had social media and online personae those days, but certain pictures were nevertheless taken simply to keep up appearances and/or to trigger other people s envy. How else were they to know you were so much better and lived such a fulfilling life? Not much has changed, after all

Later on, as a teenager, I discovered I loved candid pictures of myself and my friends. They may not have been considered acceptable by certain relatives, but the more ridiculous and funny they were, the more I appreciated them. I hated and still hate staged photos. Fine, fine, call it composition if you must, but that s not for me. I m not a photographer, I just take photos for fun, for myself, so I would remember as many moments and details as possible.

But when I look at the pictures I ve taken decent, awful and mediocre ones alike I remember exactly how I felt. There are those I ve taken because I needed to make myself feel better; there are those that I ve taken to remind myself that some nice moments existed even during the worst of times; and there are those meant to remind me of how I used to perceive certain things. There are also those photos in which I look terrible, exhausted, but I know what a great time I was having exploring, being alive and enjoying it. In fact, some of my favourite pictures are the imperfect, damaged ones. What determined them, what those moments lead to, that s what holds value and creates a memory for me, not an impeccable image of a perfect smile. On that note, I m focusing on seeing past the grey clouds and the dreary scenery while waiting for more and more flowers to bloom. After all, although it may not look like it, winter is officially over.

Have a wonderful spring, everyone! 🙂

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In response to WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: State of Mind Every photo we take says something about our emotions at the moment of taking it.1

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  1. ^ State of Mind Every photo we take says something about our emotions at the moment of taking it. (