Yes. Yes it is. Wielerman, a/k/a Renaat Schotte, twitpics a photo of the printed race guide (a pretty good sign), which reveals some tasty nuggets of information:
- Final distance is 234.6km, finally crashing the 230km barrier that G-W has threatened for a couple years now.
- After messing around in France, the decisive climbs are as follows:
- Vidagneberg, km 170
- Baneberg, km 172
- Kemmelberg, km 180
- Schomminkelstraat, km 185
- Baneberg, 189
- Kemmelberg, 196
- Monteberg, 200
Then the usual long romp from Kemmel to Wevelgem. This is a pretty big change from last year, when the race used the Rodeberg and Scherpenberg amongst the Kemmel/Bane/Montebergs for a single climbing circuit done two times. Now you've got the Baneberg and Kemmelberg done twice, but with different pathways before the Baneberg and after the Kemmelberg. The Monteberg is the last climb of the day.
The Rodeberg was pretty decisive two years ago, so it's a big deal to exclude it now, in theory at least. In practice, riders will use whatever hills are available to break things up, if they can/desire, and the Vidaigneberg or Schomminkelstraat will suffice if tongues are wagging. On the other hand, the distance is a big deal, and suggests that attacks will come as late as possible. Gent-Wevelgem is six weeks from this Sunday. [I really enjoyed typing that last sentence.]