The Tour of Flanders (Ronde Van Vlaanderen) really needs no introduction. It's one of the most iconic races on the cycling calendar, made famous by its short cobbled hills - hellingen in Dutch - and is one of the biggest sporting events in Belgium. While the professionals race the full 259km from Antwerp to Oudenaarde, amateurs can tackle a choice of distances in the sportive that runs this Saturday, the day before the pro race.
It's a perfect cycling weekend and is massively popular, with cyclists from all over the world taking part, and in excess of 16,000 cyclists crammed onto the narrow roads of the route. More and more British cyclists have been making the short trip in recent years.
You can choose from four distances to choose from in the sportive, the longest is 237km so it doesn't quite replicate the full pro race. There's also a 200km, a 141km that is very popular as it does most of the key climbs, and the shortest option is 74km.
If you’re riding it for the first time, you might be wondering what to expect? The Ronde is famous for its short and sharp cobbled hills, the likes of the Paterberg and Oude-Kwaremont made famous by battles between the top classics specialists over the years. The number of climbs and cobbled sections has changed over the years: there are 18 climbs in the full 2017 pro race route, with a number of changes. The Molenberg, Valkenberg, and Kaperij have gone and in their place is the Tenbosse, Pottelberg and the iconic Muur. You can view the full list of climbs and their location on the full race route below.
You can read my thoughts on riding the cobbled sections here, and David Else rode the sportive and you can read his blog here.
Strava is a very useful tool for previewing routes and climbs. We’ve used it to pick out some of the main climbs so if you're doing it for the first time, you can have some idea of what to expect, from the distance and gradient. Even if you've ridden it before, the segments give you an idea of what a quick time is. You can also filter the data for each segment, and view it be people you follow, age groups or even weight, to get a better indication of what a good goal time could be.
We've picked out seven key climbs to preview using 3D renders from the excellent Veloviewer website.
- 6 reasons to use Strava
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Are you riding the Tour of Flanders sportive this weekend? Let us know in the comments below.
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