2023 Ronde van Limburg Preview

Hasselt > Tongeren 204km

The Giro might be over, but there’s no time for the usual post-Giro blues, the racing continues with Ronde van Limburg. Last year, Arnaud De Lie won the uphill sprint, this time round the organisers have decided to make things a little more complicated for the fast men, they’ve added two cobble sectors to the closing lap circuit, but will it make any difference?


Sunny and quite warm. The wind will be around 20km/h, it doesn’t sound strong enough to cause splits.


The two cobble sectors are going to be important; the above image is the first one. The road is very narrow, but the cobbles don’t look too bad, and the grass verge also looks fine to be ridden on.

This is the second sector; it comes soon after the first one. The crucial part here is the hill, 1.5km at 2.4% usually wouldn’t be an issue, but uphill cobbles are difficult for some to cope with.


Grippy, very grippy. The uphill finish isn’t perfect for all quick men, you need to be a specialist to cope with this.


Being a 1.1 race, there’s only four world tour teams: Lotto Dstny, Soudal – QuickStep, Alpecin-Deceuninck and Intermarché. All these teams arrive with a sprint option, which could mean a lack of attacking on the cobbles. Merlier is a former winner of this race, and looking at his team, he seems their best option by a country mile. Lotto have Caleb Ewan, who won on Saturday, he’ll love the look of the final 500m, he’s brilliant in an uphill finish. As they are the strongest teams, I think the race is destined to finish in a sprint, which will render the cobble sectors pointless. 

Saying that, surely someone will look to attack. The problem is that if attacks come from riders on smaller teams, they are destined to fail, they need some stronger riders to put pressure on the chasers. Will anyone from Soudal – Quick Step be allowed freedom to attack, or is it all in for Merlier? At this point, it’s impossible to tell, but I do hope to see attacking racing.


Tim Merlier – he’s already taken six sprint wins this season; he’s made a great start to life at Soudal – Quick Step. As a former winner of this race, he’ll arrive here with confidence, the new cobbles shouldn’t be a problem for him. He was second to Ewan on Saturday, he’ll be wanting immediate revenge.

Caleb Ewan – took his first win of the year on Saturday, now watch him go. Sprinters feed off confidence, Ewan will now be able to puff his chest out and he’ll feel unstoppable. The uphill finish is brilliant for him, he’s won many races that finish like this. If you watched him on the Kemmelberg back in Gent-Wevelgem, you’ll know that the uphill cobbled section in this race isn’t going to slow him down, he’ll actually like it. After half a year without winning, can he take consecutive wins?

Gerben Thijssen – 3rd on Saturday, he’ll be motivated to win this race as he’s not far from home. I’ve not seen him do many uphill sprints, so I’m unsure how he’ll go, but he is enjoying a fine season. Gerben already has two wins and a host of impressive performances; he should be in the mix for the win.

Timo Kielich – should be Alpecin’s main man. The big Belgian goes well on cobbles, he was second just the other day in Antwerp Port Epic. He’s yet to win at the highest level, but after going close on a couple of occasions this year, he’ll be hoping to get that monkey off his back as soon as possible.

Bert Van Lerberghe – unlikely to be allowed freedom, but you just never know. Van Lerberghe is having a fine season; he’s played a big part in Merlier’s wins. If the race breaks up a bit, he’ll be at the front, hopefully he’s allowed to play his own card.

Loïc Vliegen – was attacking in the Queen stage in the 4 Days of Dunkirk, the form seems to be growing. He’s the type of rider who should attack on the cobbles.

Jasper De Buyst – he’s in the same boat as Van Lerberghe, we’ll have to see if he gets some freedom. 3rdplace in Rund um Köln shows the legs are good, but will he get freedom?

Erlend Blikra – 2nd in the final stage in Dunkirk, that will give him confidence for the next few races. Uno-X always seem to go well in these races, Blikra should be challenging for the podium.

Prediction Time

Soudal – Quick Step and Lotto Dstny to control the race and set up a sprint.

Embed from Getty Images

The uphill sprint should suit Caleb Ewan the most, he’ll beat Merlier and Thijssen.