Flandrien Challenge - 3 days - Day 2
After the appetiser we served up in the West, are you ready for your main course?Taking in 12 climbs and 7 cobbled sectors, as well as countless unheralded ups and downs, day 2 of the Flandrien Challenge is where you'll really earn your spurs as a True Flandrien. 190 Kilometres and 2,300 climbing meters beginning with a coffee at the Centrum Rode Van Vlaanderen before sending you to the cobbles of the Nokereberg and back across the Schelde into the beating heart of the Tour of Flanders!From there, you'll take the scenic route South to Geraadsbergen for a showdown with the Muur and Bosberg before winding your way back via historic ways like the Molenberg, Kerkgate and the Wolvenberg. There are times when you'll be almost able to see the finish in the last 50km but remember a True Flandrien never gives up and can reward themselves with something stronger than coffee back at the Centrum Ronde Van Vlaanderen's cafe.Show larger map
The last climb of Dwars Door Vlaanderen and the finale of Nokerekoerse: the only option here is to put the pedal to the metal and forge on ahead: a 350 m stretch, with an average gradient of 5.7% and the steepest incline at 7%, it was here that a touch of wheels in the sprint led to a huge crash for Mathieu Van Der Poel in the 2019 Nokerekoerse.
A 1450m long cobble section located in Wannegem-Lede and recognized by its windmill, dating to 1783. It was banned from the Ronde in 2008 when it fell into disrepair (although the organisers of the Sportif event had no such qualms in sending amateurs over it!) but now it's been cleaned up and makes for one of the best cobbled rides in the area. The open, flat section after the village is fast, with the wind normally behind you, and gives a great view of the surrounding country down to the Schelde.
A short cobblestone road runs straight through the adorable village of Mullem and leads you to foot of Den Ast. At the end of this slope you will find the castle of the Gerlache family, which is locally called the ‘Ter Ast’ castle. This climb has been used 5 times in the Ronde (1997-2000, 2010). A climb for the big ring.
The 2.260 meter long cobblestone road ‘Paddestraat’ is Flanders’ most well-known cyclist’s ‘scourge’. This present day bone rattler was once part of a Roman ‘Via’ between Boulogne-sur-Mer and Cologne. The Paddestraat became a well-deserved national monument in 1995. Here you will find the ‘Ronde van Vlaanderen Monument’, which lists the names of all Ronde winners since 1973, the year in which the Paddestraat was added to the parcours. The right hand bend after the railway crossing where you enter the cobbles was where Frank Vandenbroucke lost his bid for glory in 1999 after a brave attack with 150km to go in the company of teammate Philippe Gaumont. "Fresh" from a night out in Bruges that lasted until the early hours, Gaumont slid out on the bend and broke his wrist. VDB still managed to take second in the sprint.
The cobblestone section of the Lippenhovestraat is 'only' 1300 m long, and traditionally followed just after the cobbles of the Paddestraat in the finale of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. These days, it's the first cobbled sector of the new Tour of Flanders route. Time to put the hammer down.
The Kortendries may not have featured in the Tour of Flanders very often, but in 1990 it played a crucial role. World champion Moreno Argentin broke away from the select company of the head pack while the rest hesitated. The finish line was still 35km away. The only rider who took up the Italian’s gauntlet was Rudy Dhaenens. Both remained in the lead but in the sprint, Dhaenens proved no match for the world champion. Eight years later, Rudy Dhaenens was killed in a car accident on the day of the Tour of Flanders. He was on his way to the finish in Meerbeke, where he was to commentate for Eurosport.
De Vesten & De Muur
The legendary 'Muur van Geraardsbergen' (Grammont Wall) takes you to the 110 meter high summit of the Oudenberg. The 910m long climb has an average and maximum incline of 9% and 20% respectively. For decades De Muur was both the penultimate and decisive climb of the Ronde. Also other races such as the Three Days of De Panne, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and BinckBank Tour use the hill to separate the men from the boys. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the lovely neo-baroque church on the top of the Kapelmuur, which will be a welcome stop after a 20% steep climb.The rather dated joke in Geraadsbergen is that there are only three famous walls in the world, Berlin, China and theirs. You can, if you are sure you can get moving again, stop on the very roughest section to pay homage at a poetic tribute to Eddy Merckx or you can take a pause at Bar Gidon on the Market Square, which is festooned with race-worn jerseys and autographs of riders past and present. It is also headquarters to Remco Evenepoel's fanclub.
Tenbosse is a climb that wasn't considered one for a long time. A street like many others in Brakel and surroundings. The Tenbossestraat only became Tenbosse after Johan Museeuw proved that the decision in De Ronde van Vlaanderen could also be made there, rather than waiting for the Muur 12km later.
The Valkenberg is legendary amongst the cycling fraternity. This 900m hill has a bit of a sting in its tail. And while the steepest point may only be 15%, it feels much worse as you never seem to make any progress. Fortunately, solace awaits at the top in the form of the café In den hengst.
This is Greg Van Avermaet's absolute favourite climb. Boasting a maximum gradient of "only" 10% it seems to feel harder than it is, perhaps because you can always see exactly where you're going. It's usually encountered reasonably early in professional races, which means it isn't taken full-gas, but that will be of scant consolation as you grind your way up.
The Molenberg was for a long time the first pivot point in the Ronde. Indeed, much hinged on the poor state of the cobblestones and the bottleneck that ensured when the peloton attacked the Molenberg. Two-time winner Peter Van Petegem always said: “If you’re not in the first 10 to take the Molenberg, it will take you at least half an hour to get back in front.” The Molenberg was also the place where Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara broke away from the pack in 2010. On that occasion, Cancellara went on to win the Tour of Flanders. This is a climb you want to hit hard.
2.550 meters of gently rising cobbles. The cobbles are not that nasty as their neighbouring sections but the grade of 3% will definitely hurt. This stretch is remembered for a moment in the 2015 Tour of Flanders where almost the entire favourites group took to the pavement amongst the spectators, except Ian Stannard who ploughed on through the middle of the cobble, oblivious. Attention Flandrien Challenge hunters: the markings on the road are currently wrong, but the Strava segment as integrated in our route is correct.Halfway along the Kerkgate is the cafe of De Witte Hoeve, which is one of the liveliest places to spectate Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, with the race passing twice and team staff handing up bidons on the pavement outside. Sometimes soigneurs can be seen sneaking a quick beer between passages.
With a maximum gradient of 'only' 10%, the Eikenberg looks fairly simple on paper, but the cobbles seem to go on for an awfully long time with no let up. There are bits and pieces of asphalt at the sides of the road as it climbs, offering a very brief respite to any riders who like things a bit smoother. The Eikenberg climb may not be as well known as the Oude Kwaremont or the Paterberg, but it plays a vital role in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad as well as the Tour of Flanders.
The Volkegemberg was included 17 times (1974-1984, 1991-1996) in the Tour of Flanders. Until 1982 the slope consisted entirely of cobblestone road, after that it became an asphalt road with just200 meters of large, modern cobblestones at the top. At the moment the riders descend this slope and make a sharp right turn at the foot to start the climb of the Wolvenberg.