Classic cycle race, first run in 1945; the traditional opener to the road season in Belgium and basically the first race of the year of any stature in Europe, now held on the Saturday closest to 1 March, with its junior partner Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne providing a chance for a revenge match the following day. The race is named for its primary sponsor, the large-circulation nationalist-inclined Flemish newspaper Het Volk ("omloop" = circuit, more or less). It was at first called the Omloop Van Vlaanderen, having been set up as an alternative to the Ronde Van Vlaanderen which had tarnished its reputation somewhat when the organisers jumped through hoops to allow it to be run during the German occupation; the name was changed after legal proceedings were taken by the Ronde organisers.

The course in its present incarnation is a fairly typical one for a Flemish spring classic, starting in Ghent, heading south at first and into the low hills of the Vlaamse Ardennen for a series of short, steep, often cobbled climbs (many of the same ones which feature in the Ronde) and then turning northwards for a long, flat run-in to the finish at Lokeren punctuated by several stretches of flat pavé, for a total distance around 200 km. The pattern of the modern race is usually for the field to split up into small groups on the climbs and stay that way over the closing stages, with only the strongest riders able to bridge gaps between groups, and the decisive moves made on the last cobbled sections; however, bunch sprints are far from unknown. The weather is, as for all the races of the Flemish spring, often absolutely foul and usually a significant factor. The Flemish like their races to be hard men's events and tend to feel a bit cheated if there isn't a bit of horizontally blowing sleet.

Predictably, the list of winners is dominated by the host nation (or, more precisely, by the Flemish) - no French rider has ever won it, and only a sprinkling of foreign names, mainly Italian and Dutch, feature on the list of winners. Junior and under-23 versions of the race are also run on shorter courses at other times of year.

Update: February 2008

A new course was introduced in 2006, a loop into the Vlaamse Ardennen starting and finishing in Ghent, reducing the distance between the last climbs and the finish.

In 2007 the sponsoring newspaper was taken over by and subsumed into its erstwhile competitor, Het Nieuwsblad, and the race has consequently changed its name to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Race winners

1945 Jean Bogaerts (Belgium)
1946 André Pieters (Belgium)
1947 Albert Sercu (Belgium)
1948 Sylvain Grysolle (Belgium)
1949 André Declerck (Belgium)
1950 André Declerck (Belgium)
1951 Jean Bogaerts (Belgium)
1952 Ernest Sterckx (Belgium)
1953 Ernest Sterckx (Belgium)
1954 Karel De Baere (Belgium)
1955 Lode Anthonis (Belgium)
1956 Ernest Sterckx (Belgium)
1957 Norbert Kerckhove (Belgium)
1958 Joseph Planckaert (Belgium)
1959 Shay Elliott (Ireland)
1961 Arthur De Cabooter (Belgium)
1962 Robert De Middeleir (Belgium)
1963 René Van Meenen (Belgium)
1964 Frans Melckenbeek (Belgium)
1965 Noél De Pauw (Belgium)
1966 Jo De Roo (Netherlands)
1967 Willy Vekemans (Belgium)
1968 Herman Van Springel (Belgium)
1969 Roger De Vlaeminck (Belgium)
1970 Frans Verbeeck (Belgium)
1971 Eddy Merckx (Belgium)
1972 Frans Verbeeck (Belgium)
1973 Eddy Merckx (Belgium)
1974 Jos Bruyère (Belgium)
1975 Jos Bruyère (Belgium)
1976 Willem Peeters (Belgium)
1977 Freddy Maertens (Belgium)
1978 Freddy Maertens (Belgium)
1979 Roger De Vlaeminck (Belgium)
1980 Jos Bruyère (Belgium)
1981 Jan Raas (Netherlands)
1982 Alfons De Wolf (Belgium)
1983 Alfons De Wolf (Belgium)
1984 Eddy Planckaert (Belgium)
1985 Eddy Planckaert (Belgium)
1987 Teun Van Vliet (Netherlands)
1988 Ronny Van Holen (Belgium)
1989 Etienne De Wilde (Belgium)
1990 Johan Capiot (Belgium)
1991 Andreas Kappes (Germany)
1992 Johan Capiot (Belgium)
1993 Wilfried Nelissen (Belgium)
1994 Wilfried Nelissen (Belgium)
1995 Franco Ballerini (Italy)
1996 Tom Steels (Belgium)
1997 Peter Van Petegem (Belgium)
1998 Peter Van Petegem (Belgium)
1999 Frank Vandenbroucke (Belgium)
2000 Johan Museeuw (Belgium)
2001 Michele Bartoli (Italy)
2002 Peter Van Petegem (Belgium)
2003 Johan Museeuw (Belgium)
2004 Race cancelled - heavy snow
2005 Nick Nuyens (Belgium)
2006 Philippe Gilbert (Belgium)
2007 Filippo Pozzato (Italy)
2008 Philippe Gilbert (Belgium)
2009 Thor Hushovd (Norway)
2010 Juan-Antonio Flecha (Spain)

results snarfed from with some minor corrections

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