Is anyone riding the Tour of Flanders sportive this year? I am riding the 177 km course.
Of my clients, it is just you. @chris.rides.mtb pulled out as he has not been well. @LizOR is going to watch it!
I pulled out too. Low motivation for this year
Have a great ride!
How was it @Kicikacsa ?
Unfortunately didn‘t happen for me due to a stomach bug at the worst possible time. Next year, next try. Eyes ahead and crack on.
Hi Joe, it was bonkers. Cold, wet and windy. There was mud and other stuff all over everything except the main roads. The Oude Kwarement had 2-3cm of liquid mud the whole way up. Handling was a bit sketchy in places. Just got home after a 7 hour drive. I will post some more tomorrow.
Sorry to hear that - hope you are feeling better.
That sounds insane! Can’t wait for your full write up.
Yes! Congrats on getting through it. I saw on @pav’s Insta - looked like a tough day.
The Tour of Flanders is famous for two things: hills (Helligen) and cobbles. The Helligen are roads that go straight up the side of Flanders rolling hills, are generally short and steep and there are 17 of them the course. Many of them are also cobbled. They are some of the most evocative names in cycling. The Koppenberg. The Paterberg. The Oude Kwaremont. The Muur van Gerrardsbergen / Kappelmuur. The cobbled sections aren’t as gnarly as Paris-Roubaix but still plenty to shake hands to blisters. The most famous are probably the HaagHoek and the Mariaborrestraat.
I have ridden the Cyclo event once before in 2019 and it was a tough day out despite benign weather conditions. This year was anything but benign. Cold, wet and windy made this a very different beast. Fortunately having done long rides outside throughout the central European winter, whatever the weather, I wasn’t too fussed. The four courses, between 40 & 240km, are open from 7am so the start was in the dark with driving rain.
As with every mass start race, a lot of riders went off way too fast. Fortunately the first climb comes after only 9km followed immediately by 1.5km of cobbles. These obstacles thinned things out nicely. The first cobbled sections is always interesting as all the lose items on peoples bikes are shaken out - think bottles, lights, tool kits, rain jackets. I was giggling like small child. I just love riding on challenging sections so this wasn’t the first fit of giggles for the day.
The event is brilliantly organized with large, well equipped feed stations every 30-35km. Each one has mechanics available as well as the usual range of fruit, bars, gels etc. and drink from the sponsor Etixx. Every junction is marshalled and every big one or crossing of a major road was marshalled by police who stopped the traffic to let the riders through. The atmosphere on the climbs is like a big city marathon with music, cheering crowds and the like creating a great distraction from the effort. There is an army of photographers around the course making sure you will have plenty of souvenir photos to chose from.
The distance, climbs and constantly undulating terrain wear away at the legs before the famous final 40km. At this point the different routes start to come together and congestion starts to become a problem. The Koppenberg comes first. Topping out at 22.5% with ragged cobbles, this climb is famous for forcing professionals to dismount. The rain had washed mud into the road to add to the fun and I made it about half way up before losing traction and having to walk the rest. I didn’t feel as bad after watching most of the pro’s walking up in dry conditions the following day.
The Oude Kwaremont is the longest climb at 2.4km and cobbled all the way. It is not as steep as some of the other climbs but had a glaze of mud which added to the challenge. It was noticeable that for the pro race, the surface of the climb had been cleaned all the way up. During the pro race, the road is lined 10 deep with spectators who are able to watch the race from huge hospitality tents before dashing out to see the race pass. About half way up the road passes through the village of Kwaremont with its famous brewery helping to keep the crowd in good voice. I was offered a beer more than once on my way through.
Then on to the Paterberg which is very similar to the Koppenberg, but slightly less sleep. Only a few people rode all the way up the slippery surface. There were plenty of locals on hand to help push us and get going again. The top is marked with a Red Bull energy station handing out free cans. I hate the stuff but that day, it hit the spot.
Off the top it’s a really fast 15km run in to Oudenaarde to finish at the same place as the pro’s do. The actual finish line is in the town square 3 km further on but this section is neutralized. There is a secured bike parking area so you can leave your steed and explore the various exhibitors, food and drink options.
Kit wise, I rode my standard race bike with Schwalbe Pro One 25mm tubeless tyres. They come up 28mm on the rims I use. I followed the Silca tyre pressure reco for cobbles and dropped 10 psi from my usual inflation. The only thing that went wrong was my front mech came lose about half way round. I was a bit disappointed as I had been through my whole bike with a torque wrench in preparation.
It was a hard day out but I fuelled well, kept warm and was able to push all the way to the finish. It had been over 2 years since my last event due to catching covid and complications & injuries. Pav has kept me going and brought me back close to my best. The big question is what next?
Excellent! Well done and thank you for your write-up.
Kudos! very well done on this. Never easy riding
well done, @Kicikacsa - excellent effort
Huge well done and pat on the back Julian!
Awesome pictures Looks like a tough day.
Looks like a fun day!
Kudos! Looks like a tough one
Thumbs up, great ride! I would have loved to do it and it was my number one goal for this year. Unfortunately taken out by a stomach bug.