The 89th national tour of Belgium gets under way on Wednesday 12th June 2019. Stage one should be one for the sprinters in the race. A total of 184.3 Kms on a relatively flat parcours lie between the start in Sint Niklaas and the finishing line in Knokke-Heist.
The stage starts in the Grote Markt of Sint Niklaas within the shadow of the imposing town hall. Sint Niklaas is the capital of the Waasland region and the Grote Markt is the largest in Belgium. Between 1977 and 1998 the markt was the starting point for the Tour of Flanders.
The tour makes use of this grandiose setting as from the moment the race starts the race rolls out and traverses the entire square before heading out of Sint Niklaas. They continue through Sint Gillis, Sint Pauwells and Vlijminckschiek. The race then heads back over the start line in Sint Niklaas to contest the first of the tour’s sprint points.
With this local circuit completed the route then heads out into open countryside. Traveling in a westerly direction the next point of note comes at 40 Kms, The race heads through Sinai via Vleeshouwersstraat. This is a long straight urban cobbled road surrounded on either side by shops and houses. The sprint point is at Café het park in Sinaii.
The roads continue to cut their way through Ekaarde to Persjzer where the race bears Northwards almost to the Dutch border near Zelzale. From here the route continues west and snakes its way through Assende, Kaprijke and Eeklo.
Just short of Bruges the stage reaches Make. Here the trajectory of the days racing takes another change in direction as it heads north. All roads now lead to the coast.
A 2,000 metre stretch of cobbles is the next obstacle for the peloton to contend with and comes after 120.7kms if riding. Its only another 5.3kms and another stretch of cobbles has to be taken on, This time a 400 metre stretch of Kerkstraat in Vivenkoppelle.
The route is now ready for its final act, the local circuit in and around Knokke-Heist. Each lap is approximately 11kms long.
There is a sprint point to be raced for at 140.3kms on the first lap. The finish line on De Wandelaar is crossed for the first time after a total of 144.9 Kms of riding.
On the 2nd lap there is the infamous golden kilometre sprint to be won. This takes place on Heistlaan in Ramskapelle after 169.8 Kms of the stage.
The final kilometres of the stage sees the riders power along the wide and straight Elizabetlaan before taking a sharp left hand corner onto the much narrower Zeerobbenlaan. The entrance to this road though is at least cut wider at the apex and show should assist the riders as the clamber for position.
From here the coast is in view and the road leads onto Zeedijk-Albertstraand courtesy of a left hand turn.
This is your typical Belgian seaside promenade. High-rise flats and shops are to the left and to the right is the sea. The lead up to the finish on this stretch is of course pan flat. That is until the very end of the stage where the road ramps up onto De Wandelaar where the winner of stage one will be known.