Category Archives: Racing

New Flanders finish town

The bidding for a new finish of the Ronde van Vlaanderen was settled and Oudenaarde won.  The finish has been in Merebeek for the last twenty-plus years, but their contract was up which opened up the bidding.

It was a fierce battle, but the race promoter said the highest bidder did not win.  The best choice was selected based on many criteria.  The new finish belongs to the same town that holds the Tour of Flanders museum and hosts many other races throughout the year. None of these other races are of the same caliber as the Ronde, but this town still has a lot of experience.

With the new finish come changes to the route.  Reading the Belgian comments, I don’t think people are so upset about the town for the finish, but rather about the changes in getting there. For the first time in a very long time the Bosberg, and more importantly Muur-Kappel-Muur, are not in the race.  So many times those two hills have selected the winner.  In 2010, watching Fabian Cancelara power away from Tom Boonen on the Muur was electrifying! I have ridden those hills many times and to just look so smooth and calm yet be destroying the best competitor, wow.  I mean wow.

So that is now out.  The course will not even visit those climbs. Instead we will see laps or maybe concentric rings for the finish, with three times up both the Owde Kwaremont and Paterberg, and with other hills on two of the loops. As if the route were not confusing enough, the racers take in seven other climbs before finding the Owde Kwaremont and Paterberg.  Then they head out a little bit to find some more cobbled streets and two more climbs.  Then the route goes back to the pair again, then there’s another climb, and then back one last time to the pair.  Finally the course winds into Oudenaarde for the finish.

As I mentioned, my searches of Belgian commentary indicate that the people there are generally very unhappy.  The racers are withholding comment, but they’re all thinking of how they can use the new route to their advantage. The news media is split.

For me, I don’t really care.  Let’s have an exciting race! We’ll ride the race course the day before and see what we really think about riding all these climbs and the final pair three times. Ask me what I think then!

On April 8th, 2012, we will all know if the new course is a match for the old one!

Gent-Wevelgem: the new route

You may or may not know that the promoters for the WorldTour races in Flanders banded together and are working on bringing all the events to the level of the Tour of Flanders. As part of that Gent-Wevelgem has increased the length of the course 19 miles, they are running the second annual cyclosportive (or Grand Fondo if you prefer) following all or part of the race course, and adding a women’s race right before the men’s event.

For us this is not a huge change, we will happily take you on the race course the day before the professionals. We will happily show you the race a few times. And, if you don’t want to do the full route, will take you over a few shortcuts to just ride the fun stuff.

Training Tips

The best way to train is by riding. Ride a couple of times a week if possible, take indoor spinning classes, ride your trainer, and just put time in the saddle.

For complete training guidance we strongly recommend a coach.


We will be riding 200-400 miles in cool weather over the course of your two-week trip, so you should prepare for this by doing at least a few rides outside in the cold at home.  You should also be prepared for a big 5-6 hour ride on one day.  Here is an example of the training we might do:

“…I will get ready for Belgium by riding the trainer indoors (or a spin class) twice a week and a long 4-5 hour ride on the weekend.  As we are traveling in April for the Spring Classics, I would be well into this program at the end of February.  Prior to March, I would be attending at least one spin class or indoor trainer session and 2-3 hours outside during each week…” John, trip guide


If you don’t have the time for the long rides on the weekends, you can certainly replace the time with effort.  Spin classes can provide quite a bit of effort, but we have to admit that indoor training is a time for easier spinning. Studies have shown 30 minutes of intervals (1 on 2 off) is the same as 2 hours steady riding.


The best part of training is the recovery phase! Make sure to stretch after every winter ride.  A good night’s sleep after a hard workout is very important in realizing gains from the effort.  Perhaps the week before traveling you can skip one or two workouts to make sure you are fresh once you get to your destination.

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