2023 Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne Preview

Kuurne > Kuurne 191.3km

Freezing cold conditions, a strong wind, this is going to be a long day for some. After removing the Kwaremont last year, the organisers have stuck with the new route. I love the Kwaremont, so I’m always disappointed when it’s not in the race, but there’s still enough to keep everyone entertained. The route change didn’t really have an impact on the race, it was still a big game of cat and mouse, with the break getting caught agonisingly close to the line. Who’ll win this time round, the cat or the mouse?


Baltic! The temperature will barely get above freezing, and it will feel a lot worse when the 25km/h wind hits you. This will gust up to 40km/h, which will make life very hard for those who want an easy race.

Key Points

Here’s the fun bit! The final 120km of the race is full of crosswind sections, and not much headwind. With the wind blowing between 25 and 40km/h, the race is bound to split. A small peloton is not good news for the sprinters hoping it all comes back together.

Mont Saint-Laurent was brought into the race last year, it is devilishly steep cobbled climb, and it forces a selection in the bunch.

You’ll know the Côte de Trieu (or Côte de Tiesj as I like to call it) from many races like DDV, it’s a well-used climb in these parts. It’s one of the few hills where puncheurs/climbers can make a difference. From the crest there’s still 60km to go. 

The lap circuit has a slight change to previous years, but you’ll barely notice it. Remember, a 5 second gap in Kortrijk is like 20 seconds anywhere else in the world.


I can’t help but think the sprinters will be disappointed when they see the weather forecast. Last year it was a nice day, and the peloton had just about enough domestiques to bring it back for a sprint. With a hard day in the saddle very likely, ensuring a sprint will be incredibly difficult. 

The two climbs I’ve already highlighted are where the big selections can be made, but there’s still a long way to go in the race. The constant threat of crosswind is what is likely to do the damage, when we get a windy edition of this race, it normally means a strong group fights for the win. It is inevitable a group will form in the final 70km of the race, it’s all about how they work together and who’s left in the peloton to chase. Looking at the cold and wind, I don’t think this is going to end in a bunch sprint.

What will Lotto do? De Lie showed today that he is incredibly strong, but trying to ride for a sprint is risky given the weather conditions. Can he get over the Côte de Trieu with the best climbers? That is unlikely, Lotto will need to have some numbers in the peloton to try and bring it back together after this climb, then De Lie will take his chances in the final 50km.

QuickStep, Alpecin and Lotto are the teams most interested in a big sprint, everyone else will be keen on a tough day in the saddle. We’ll have to see how the race unfolds, I don’t think it’ll be a sprint, but cycling always has a habit of surprising. 


Fabio Jakobsen – form isn’t quite there, there’s no getting away from that. He’s the defending champion, the “new” route is one that suits him well, but will the conditions? A tough day is not what he needs just now, it will really test his current form.

Arnaud De Lie – he’s a monster. I’ve compared him to a young Sagan, but he looks better than that. Being one of the fastest sprinters, and one of the strongest riders, should ensure he has a chance of winning this race. I don’t expect to see him waiting for a sprint, he’ll mix it with the classics specialists. 

Jasper Philipsen – didn’t do anything in Omloop, but that wasn’t a surprise. His focus this weekend was always going to be this race, but I do have a few concerns about the strength of his team. I’m not sure Alpecin will have the fire power to bring back the attackers in the finale of this race.

Christophe Laporte – 3rd in Omloop, and he looked very strong throughout. This race offers Laporte a big opportunity, Jumbo-Visma would love to come away from this weekend with two wins. They line up with a strong team, expect to see lots of van Baarle, Benoot, Tratnik and van Hooydonck. Laporte has a fast finish, but today showed that he needs his team to drop De Lie.

Alexander Kristoff – freezing conditions are excellent for him, he normally copes better than most. If the race does come back together, he’ll be fighting for the win.

Fred Wright – strong in Omloop, but used up his matches too early in the race. This should be a better race for Fred, especially as Bahrain should have multiple riders in the front group that forms on the climbs. 

Tim Wellens – strong today and likely to be one of the best on the Côte de Trieu. He’s not got the attributes of the typical winner of this race, but you just never know.

Yves Lampaert – the local boy, but he never seems to get it right in this race.

Casper Pedersen – Danish riders usually don’t mind the freezing cold. Pedersen has enjoyed a flying start to his QuickStep career, he’ll hope for a selective race and a sprint from a small group. The problem for him could be the presence of Ballerini, if he survives, Pedersen will be on lead out duties. 

Rune Herregodts – I’ve been keeping me eye on him recently, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen. 2nd in the Figueira Classic, where he climbed very well. This was followed up in the Algarve with 6th on Alto da Fóia and 10th in the TT, two results that should not be overlooked. He should have a free hand in this race, it would not be a surprise to see him in the top 10.

Prediction Time

I’ll go for a strong group of riders fighting it out for the win. 

Embed from Getty Images

I think we’ll see another win for Jumbo-Visma, this time with Christophe Laporte.