Oude Kwaremont: Key Climb of Flanders

Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogačar drop Wout van Aert Tour of Flanders 2023

The Oude Kwaremont, an emblematic climb in the heart of Flanders, has etched its name in the annals of cycling history. This challenging ascent, with its 2.2 km length and an average gradient of 4%, becomes the arena where cycling legends are born and dreams of victory are either realised or shattered. The cobblestones that pave the climb add an extra layer of complexity, making it a true test of a rider’s skill and endurance. Not just any cyclist can conquer the Oude Kwaremont; it demands a unique blend of power, resilience, and tactical savvy. Over the years, it has become a critical juncture in races like the Tour of Flanders and the E3 Saxo Classic, where the outcome of the race can be decisively influenced. Riders of note who have triumphed on this battlefield include cycling luminaries such as Mathieu van der Poel, Philip Gilbert, Niki Terpstra, and more recently, Tadej Pogacar. Each of these athletes has demonstrated remarkable fortitude and determination to dominate on the cobbles of the Kwaremont.

The Oude Kwaremont
(Photo credit: kramon)

The 2024 Tour of Flanders and E3 Saxo Classic

In 2024, the Oude Kwaremont once again proved to be a pivotal moment in the Tour of Flanders and the E3 Saxo Classic. This climb, renowned for its ability to split the peloton and create significant gaps between riders, lived up to its reputation. The sight of cyclists battling against the gradient and the cobbles, pushing themselves to their limits, captures the essence of these races. In the past, strategies have revolved around this climb, with teams positioning their leaders at the front of the peloton to avoid crashes and to be in a good spot when the road starts to rise. It’s not just about raw power; success on the Oude Kwaremont requires a rider to have a deep reserve of stamina, an ability to endure pain, and the tactical nous to know when to make their move. These races have seen dramatic chases and solo victories, all underscored by the relentless backdrop of the Kwaremont.

Rider Highlights

Mathieu van der Poel

Mathieu van der Poel, with his explosive power and unmatched resilience, has consistently shown that he is a formidable force on the Oude Kwaremont. Van der Poel’s ability to accelerate on the cobbles, leaving competitors struggling in his wake, has been a hallmark of his races. His performances on this climb have not only added to his growing legend but have also served as a masterclass in how to tackle such a challenging ascent. Van der Poel’s success is rooted in his exceptional bike handling skills and his capacity to sustain high power outputs over the duration of the climb, making him a perennial favourite in any race featuring the Oude Kwaremont.

Philippe Gilbert

Philip Gilbert

Philip Gilbert’s victories in the region are a testament to his deep understanding of the race dynamics and his remarkable endurance. Gilbert’s approach to the Oude Kwaremont has often been one of patience and cunning, waiting for the perfect moment to strike and make his move. His ability to read the race and his competitors has allowed him to emerge victorious, even when the odds were stacked against him. Gilbert’s experience and knowledge of the climb have made him one of the most respected riders in the peloton when it comes to tackling the Flanders classics.

Niki Terpstra & Yves Lampaert E3 2018

Niki Terpstra

Niki Terpstra’s triumphs on the Oude Kwaremont are built on his exceptional timing and powerful surges. Terpstra has a knack for making decisive moves at just the right moment, often catching his rivals off guard. His success on this climb can be attributed to his strategic positioning and his ability to maintain a high pace over the cobblestones, demonstrating his profound prowess in one-day classics. Terpstra’s victories in Flanders are a showcase of his strength, endurance, and tactical intelligence.

Tadej Pogacar
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar, the young phenom, has already made his mark on the Oude Kwaremont despite his relative newcomer status to the classics scene. Pogacar’s approach combines a climber’s finesse with the raw power necessary to excel on flat cobblestone sections. His versatility has been on full display on the Kwaremont, where he has been able to match the best classic specialists with his climbing ability and explosive accelerations. Pogacar’s performances indicate a bright future and potentially many more victories in the cobbled classics.

The Oude Kwaremont remains a defining feature of the Flemish classics, a climb where races are won and lost, where legends are made, and where the heart of cycling beats the strongest. The riders who excel here are not just strong; they are tacticians, masters of pain, and above all, warriors of the road. As we look forward to future races, the Oude Kwaremont will undoubtedly continue to be a central chapter in the storied history of cycling.