Spearheaded by Lotte Kopecky, Tim Merlier and Jasper Philipsen: Danilith Nokere Koerse shows off competitive field of participants as well as unique cobbled course

Danilith Nokere Koerse will serve up a challenging route to riders on 13 March. The 2024 race is 188.1 kilometres long for the men and 127 kilometres for the women. The start remains at the Markt in cycling town Deinze and the finish is, of course, on top of Nokereberg.

Nevertheless, there are some novelties here and there. First there is a 94.2km run-up that takes the riders past Nazareth, Gavere, Oosterzele, Zwalm, Oudenaarde, Horebeke, Maarkedal, Anzegem and Wortegem-Petegem towards Nokere. After 25 kilometres, the famous Lange Munte is the first cobbled section of the day, 15 kilometres later the Kattenberg, Holleweg and Jagerij are the next obstacles. This is followed by a diversion around the Roman Brewery along the Varent. From Oudenaarde we head to Anzegem with the cobblestones of the Varent, the slopes Hellestraat and Holstraat and in Wortegem-Petegem the lesser-known Petegemberg (500m at 7.6%), with a beautiful view over the Flemish Ardennes at the top. In total, there are 13 hills.

Danilith Nokere Koerse ME: Tim Merlier for number 3? Jakobsen for his second? Or Philipsen for his first?

Belgian champion Tim Merlier was victorious on the flanks of Nokereberg in 2023. This year, the Wortegemnaar will also be at the start in Deinze. And with ambition! Merlier is going for a third victory in a row. That would equal Hendrik Van Dyck's victory record from the 1990s. But no one has ever done that three times in a row. Also at the start: Jasper Philipsen; international victory king and winner of the Green jersey in last year's Tour. Jasper was on the podium once before in Nokere. Curious to see what he can do now! And the sprint violence is not over yet: former winner Fabio Jakobsen is also at the start with his DSM-Post-NL team, which also brings John Degenkolb, former winner of Paris-Roubaix, among others. The Ineos Grenadiers have Elia Viviani with them; the Italian won stages in all the grand tours, was European champion, but what can he do on the cobbles? These four world class sprinters will be challenged by attackers from the likes of Lotto-Dstny with Milan Menten, third last year, and Alec Segaert. Cofidis brings former winner Ludovic Robeet, among others, into contention. Norwegian hard rider Mikkel Bjerg is on the start list for UAE Emirates. French flandrien Hugo Hofstetter is at the start on behalf of Israel-Premier Tech together with German sprinter Pascal Ackermann. Gerben Thijssen will be the leader for Intermarché-Wanty.

A total of 10 WorldTour teams, nine procontinental teams and one continental team are competing in Danilith Nokere Koerse 2024.

Danilith Nokere Koerse WE: Lorena Wiebes for number 3 or Lotte Kopecky for 2?

Lotte Kopecky provided the goosebump moment of the cycling spring last year. In a haunting race, she rode constantly on the attack and that a few days after the sad loss of her brother. It was mouse-still on Nokereberg when she crossed the finish line. This year too, Lotte, as world champion, will be at the start in Deinze. Competition may come from her own super team of SD Worx-Protime; for example, from top sprint star Lorena Wiebes. Danilith Nokere Koerse was her first big win in the pros. Can she win for the third time? Also at the start: Chantal Van den Broek - Blaak; the Dutch former world champion previously won the Tour of Flanders, Strade Bianchi and so much more and now returns after a year's absence after becoming a mum for the first time.
Belgium's rising talent Julie De Wilde is also expected at the start. Italian top sprint star Chiara Consonni, winner of Dwars door Vlaanderen in '22, will also start. Or what can Cuban Arlenis Sierra do; the Movistar top rider finished 4th in the Tour of Flanders in 2022 and fifth in Nokere in 2023? So the Flemish cobbles should suit her. In the same team also Dutch top rider Floortje Mackaij and especially Emma Bjerg-Norsgaard, last year's Tour de France stage winner.

So it will be an exciting battle for the women as well!