Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne get 2014 Classics under way
Guide to the two one-day races in Belgium
Last Updated: 28/02/14 6:36pm
The two events traditionally make for captivating racing and provide one-day specialists with a first opportunity of the year to test their form.
Weighing in at 198.4km, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad criss-crosses the Flanders cycling heartland and is littered with both testing climbs, known as hellingen, and sections of cobbles, known as pave.
Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne returns to the calendar after being cancelled last year due to snow. The 197km race also contains several short and sharp ascents, but is geared more towards sprinters.
Here are the races in more detail...
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Saturday, March 1)
This year's route contains ten climbs, which is two less than last year, and ten cobbled sections, which is two more than last year.
The race will come to life when it reaches the famed climbing sequence of the Kruisberg, Taaienberg and Eikenberg, which is sure to split up the peloton.
The riders then have to negotiate three sections of back-to-back cobbles (Ruiterstraat, Karel Martelstraat and Holleweg), before taking on two final climbs of the Leberg and then Molenberg, which is crested with 37.6km to go.
More cobbles provide the last test before tense arrival to the finish line in Gent.
Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne (Sunday, March 2)
The race starts and finishes in Kuurne, but contrary to its name, does not actually pass through the Belgian capital of Brussels at any point.
After the start, the peloton will head east to Ninove, but before reaching Brussels, they will travel south and then head back towards to the west of the country, taking in a number of key climbs on the return journey.
It is here that the sprint teams will face their toughest test, as they bid to snuff out attacks and keep the race together over the ascents.
The last climb arrives 50km from home, which should give the sprint trains plenty of time to assert control ahead of a 16km loop around Kuurne that marks the end of the race.