There is no doubt that cycling has its roots in Europe. We know Amsterdam has more bikes than people or cars and if you follow road cycling you’re probably thinking yellow jerseys at Tour de France or the cycling fanatics of the big Italy bike race, Giro d’Italia. They are after all, the biggest bike races.
Searching for the greatest Gran Fondos and Cycle Sportive events
While many people debate where the home of cycling is, you only need to visit the Flanders region in Belgium to end the debate.
Travelling to Belgium and watching the Tour of Flanders live is a must for anyone who loves cycling. Add a ride on the course with the Tour of Flanders Sportive and it confirms why Flanders is the cycling mecca and home to the greatest cycling sportive event.
Ride Tour of Flanders Sportive
Each year 16,000 cyclists saddle up to ride the Tour of Flanders Sportive. As part of our Bikestyle Tours trip to Spring Classics the guests take up the challenge with the support of one the hard men of Belgium cycling, Eric De Clercq.
There are two ride distances to choose, a long or short event (about 150km or 75km). Both follow the race course of the one day race on the following day.
Eric says the sportive is unlike any other riding you’ll do. The area is unparalleled for narrow winding roads, short steep climbs and of course cobbles thrown into the mix.
A well organised cycle event with famous climbs and cobbles
A participant this year documented their experience with Bikestyle Tours at the Flanders Cycle Sportive. They’ve travelled with Bikestyle on several occasions to watch the Grand Tours and famous bike races. This was their first to a Spring Classics event.
“We had great weather for our ride with dry roads and temperatures reaching 16 degrees. The first thing you notice is the number of riders. While the huge numbers might seem a negative it adds to the atmosphere and you shortly realise that most, if not all can ride a bike. We started in a group of about 60 riders and headed out on the course.”
“We soon came up to our first sector of cobbles. Eric’s tip “you need to ride the cobbles hard”. This thought was bouncing around in my head just as my bike was. He was right, no wonder Belgium’s are the hard men of cycling.”
“After a few sectors under our belts we were in a groove and felt comfortable for one of the most feared cobbled climbs, Koppenberg, 660m averaging 11.6% and maxing out at 22%. Oh did I mention cobbles?”
“There are too many climbs to name all but I have to mention the Oude Kwaremont: 2.2km average 4% (Max 11%), and the Paterberg: 400m average 12.5% (Max 20%).”
Incredible event support and feed stations during the ride
“We wanted the full Tour of Flanders experience so we stopped after roughly 90km at one of the many feed stations to stock up on waffles and fruit. There was no chance of going hungry as there is an abundance of food and drinks at each of the amazing aid stations.”
“The sugar from the waffles kicked in just as the hands, legs and rear end were all suggesting that they were done for the day. The last 40km went pretty quick and gave time to reflect on the international experience. Cycling does draws people together and the sound of many different languages echoed through the bunch.” 50% of riders are from outside of Belgium.
“Coming up to the finish line we were all overwhelmed with a mix of excitement, pride and relief of completing the demanding course. We went in search of some Belgian beer, Eric had great suggestions for this too.”
“I have been very fortunate to experience amazing locations and experiences on a bike but the locals, the feed stations, the roads, the cobbles and the climbs make the day one of the best days on the bike that I can remember.”
“I would register for the Tour of Flanders sportive every year if it were possible. Thanks Eric, can we call ourselves “hard men” now?”
Exclusive Offer for Bowral Classic Participants
Each year Bikestyle Tours offers a 4 day trip to Flanders or an 11 day trip that also includes Paris-Roubaix sportive and race on the following weekend.
Any participant in the 2019 Bowral Classic is eligible to receive complimentary bike hire during their trip to the 2020 Tour of Flanders with Bikestyle Tours. Book either the 4-day Flanders or 11-day Flanders and Roubaix trip and complete the Bowral Classic in 2019.