Stretching a whopping 181km, this route is solely the reserve of trained athletes keen to push themselves to the limit. It was put together by experts, with special attention to tackling the right hills in the right direction. As well as in Oudenaarde, you can also start this route in Ronse or Geraardsbergen. There are also optional short cuts at various points. Whatever you decide, for safety reasons this route should always be ridden clockwise.
* Whether the roughest and toughest stretches of “Flanders’ Finest” are dry and dusty or wet and slippery, the Cancellara in you just can’t wait to be unleashed.
* You’re not scared of a pro racing route. What was the race record again? Just you wait!
* You want to feel those cobblestones and the bumpier the better.
* For you, gently pedalling along is simply not an option. Nor is “giving up” part of your vocabulary.
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.
This is one of the signature cobblestone roads in Flanders. The cobbles in this two kilometre stretch are rough but what makes this road really special is how it sinks in the middle, causing a slight descent at the start and a rise at the end. The Haaghoek is featured in races such as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and Tour of Flanders.
This asphalt climb is regularly featured in the Flemish spring classics. It's positioned immediately after the legendary cobbles of the Haaghoek. The Leberg is 700m long and has an average gradient of 6,1% with its steepest point, 14%, in a right-hand curve at the bottom of the climb. The climb connects to the last bit of the Pottenberg which is less steep, but runs exposed through fields and acres, causing wind to have a significant influence. Look out for the road graffiti in support of local riders that can be seen on your way up all year round.
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.
Toepkapel is a beautiful yet tough stretch of road amongst the forests of Nederbrakel en route for the chapel that lies at the top of the hill. The wellknown “Top” brand of spring water is bottled just a stone’s throw from here at the foot of the hill. This stretch guarantees a challenging but rewarding climb of maximum 12% over a total length of 400 metres.
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.
This legendary hill has become known as the ‘Edwig Van Hooydonck Hill’ since the famous Flemish cyclist made his race winning move in the Ronde van Vlaanderen there twice, next to the same lamp post, in both 1989 and 1991. The Bosberg is now the final climb in the redesigned Omloop het Nieuwsblad and features three times in the final stage of the BinckBank Tour.
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.
Also known as 'Bosgat', this climb will definitely hurt. You start on cobbles but when the climb kicks in the cobbles are replaced by typical Belgian concrete road surface. The Kaperij was used a couple times in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and in the Omloop het Nieuwsblad. The max gradient is 8%.
The Bovenstraat/Kouterberg was an official climb in the 1991 edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. It is also called "Kouterberg", but differs from the Kouterberg as used by the Ronde between 1984 and 1990. That was on the parallel road.The paved climb has a altitude difference of 45 meters, a length of 1,440 meters, an average gradient of 3,4% with a maximum of 9%. After 200 meters of climbing you will find the restaurant 'Het Genot at Den Berg' on the right-hand side of the road.
The sequence of Mariaborrestraat - Steenbeekdries cobbled section is 1250m in total and includes the climb of Steenbeekdries. In the Tour of Flanders this is usually taken straight after the Koppenberg with a feed area on the slightly uphill N60, resulting in the fast, downhill cobbles of the Mariaborrestraat being littered with lost bidons and gels. After this segment you can take a left onto the descent of the dangerous cobbled Stationsberg.
Schapenberg - Scherpenberg
This hill may be one of the lesser known of the Tour of Flanders, but it is one of the toughest and most challenging in the whole Flemish Ardennes. The Schapenberg is a narrow and winding climb of 1.5 km. The steepest part is on an incline of no less than 20%! Should your over-extended heart survive the shock of meeting the bad tempered German Shepherd near the top, who invariably barks at passing cyclists, you'll join the road at the top of the Hotond, the view (on a clear day) stretches out all the way to France. This is, in fact, the highest point of East-Flanders (145 metres).
last climb of the day:
The ‘bump’ of Melden, as the Koppenberg is locally known, is guaranteed to add suspense to the Ronde, every year. Not surprisingly it has been listed as a national monument. This hill and over 100 acres of surrounding countryside add up to one the most beautiful natural hotspots in the Flemish Ardennes.The Koppenberg is also probably the most difficult climb in the region, combining maximum gradient of 20% with rutted, worn cobbles and a constantly greasy surface. There's no shame in having to stop. Better men than us have had to walk up here. Legend has it that the climb was introduced to the Tour of Flanders organisers by 2 time winner Walter Godefroot, but only after he'd retired so he wouldn't have to race up it.