This really look like an idiotically hard and fun contest, which I’m looking forward to see published as a faced-paced video on the Red Bull website. If I had the time, I would probably give it a try.
Basically, it is a 300 meter time-trial up the Muur van Geraardsbergen/Kapelmuur (the last 300 M, with a gradient of around 15-20%). Finalists will then go through a Knock-Out, 6 by 6, at night.
More info here.
There is also another similar (yet a bit less teenagey) event organized on 11 March 2012, the Skoda Muur Challenge. They have a regular cyclo, but also include a time-trial up the Muur. Not 300 m, but the whole 1 km.
Anyway, don’t know when I’ll have the next opportunity to go up the Muur this year. Indeed, now that it has been removed from the Ronde van Vlaanderen pro event, it will also be excluded from the cyclo version. Which is really unfortunate, because it was probably the most iconic hellig to go up.
I guess I’ll just have to include it in one of my Sunday rides!
Many of the bigger cyclosportives in Belgium are under the one or the other label. But some of them are outside. Here are some of them, organized by Golazo Sport, the biggest flemish sports events organizer:
- Liège-Bastogne-Liège Challenge (21 April 2012): a day before the professionals, following the same route as them, contrary to the (three times more populated) Decathlon Tilff-Bastogne-Tilff of the Banque de la Poste Cycling Tour, which takes place on 27 May 2012. The latter takes place in the same area as the pro event, but misses highlights such as the totally barbarian Côte de Stockeu.
- La Philippe Gilbert (28 April 2012): Hill after hill after hill, in the Ardennes.
- Grand Départ Tour de France Cyclo (30 June 2012):
not clear whether this will take place, we will have to see whether the website (here) ever becomes active. The event would take place in the Liège region, while the professionals are doing the Prologue. I checked with the organisation and this cyclo has been cancelled. Unfortunate, but at least we now know!
- Tourtocht WK Wielerrennen (15 September 2012): The cyclo of the road world championship in Limburg, on the same route as the professionals, including the Cauberg and the Bemelerberg. Not exactly in Belgium, but close by.
(Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2012 – Photo Peter Malaise)
Like last year, I am starting to look ahead and plan for the cyclosportives of next year. All my posts on last year’s 2011 calendar are still available here.
Most of these events are not Gran Fondo or cyclosportives in the strict sense (i.e. timed events), but what we call here cyclotourist/wielertoeristen events. Whatever you want to call it, these are basically the events for all of us who don’t have the time or the inclination for proper racing, but still enjoy organised and collective events. In Belgium, if you want to race, you go to a race, not a cyclosportive.
As for the magnitude of the events, you will find everything from the very fancy mass event (Ronde van Vlaanderen had 20 000 participants last year) to the very modest audax, with a few dozens of participants. I did the whole range and all of them are fun. Just depends what you are in the mood for.
For 2012, first, the generalists calendars:
- Go Cycling calendar which tends to be very comprehensive and is independent from any specific event organiser. It lists events on both sides of the linguistic border (so Walloonia and Flanders) and is a good source for the more modest events (also has the big events, but you’ll find the latter more easily anyway).
- Grinta! (the “official journal” for wielertouristen) has a selection of events it publishes on the web. The rest of the calendar is in the magazine, to which you might want to subscribe to. You can also get it in the bigger Relay newspaper stands in the main train stations of Brussels and of course in Flanders. It is really worthwhile, as it will provide an independent selection of the best events. Even if you do not understand a lot of Dutch (which is my case) and cannot read the rest of the articles.
- Cycling.be (which belongs to the MSN portal) has a decent calendar.
- The Vlaamse Wielrijdersbond (VWB – the Flemish Cyclists Union, not to be confused with the Wielerbond Vlaanderen, affiliated to the UCI) publishes a calendar of the events affiliated with them (which are most of the smaller cyclos organised in Flanders). You can click on the three sub-categories under “Kalender Wielertoerisme”.
(Kuurne Brussel Kuurne 2012 – Photo by Cindy Trossaert)
For the bigger series:
- The Banque de La Poste Cycling Tour, which regroups the more large-scale events, has its own website.
- The cyclosportive Tour des Flandres/Ronde van Vlaanderen also has its own website. Registration is already open, the event will be held on 31 March 2012. This is a huge thing, with 20.000 participants last year (including me).
- Flanders Classics, which organises cyclos back to back with the classics and semi-classics pro events they organise: Omloop Het Nieuwblad cyclo (Circuit Het Nieuwblad, ex-Omloop Het Volk), Dwars door Vlaanderen cyclo (Across Flanders/A travers les Flandres), Gent-Wevelgem cyclo, Scheldeprijs cyclo, (Grand Prix of the Schelde/Grand Prix de l’Escaut) and the Brabantse Pijl cyclo (Brabant Arrow/Flèche Brabançonne). This year, they also added the Word flandrien cyclo, on 1 July 2012 in the Flemish Ardennes.
- Then, the Biachi Trofee calendar, with 16 events in the immediate surroundings to Brussels (in the Pajottenland and the Dendervallei).
- Finally, the Heroica Classics calendar of the Vlaamse Wielrijdersbond (VWB).
This should get you well into the summer! For the Gran Fondo, which are held later in the season and more in the Ardennes than in the Brabant or the Flemish Ardennes, it is going to be for another post.