We have an amazing day ahead of us, firstly we will ride the famous Kemmelberg from the Gent-Wevelgem race and after lunch visits the Tyne Cot Cemetery and to finish the day witness the Last Post under the imposing memorial arches of the Menin Gate.
All the action today will centre around the famed Arenberg forest, The Wallers Forest and the section near Orchies. Today will be the last big day training for the teams, they will complete their final bike preparation and complete the reconnaissance of the important parts of the course and we usually see many of the teams out on the pave.
We will be heading down to Arenberg and see some of the teams pass through there before heading across to the Roubaix velodrome to see where we will be finishing Saturday’s Cyclo Sportif ride and then go to the clubhouse for some retail therapy and possibly a beer in the bar.
First used in 1968 the Trouée d’Arenberg, Tranchée d’Arenberg, (Trench of Arenberg), Trouee de Wallers Arenberg, has become the symbol of Paris–Roubaix. The 2400m of cobbles were laid in the time of Napoleon I and the road were proposed for Paris–Roubaix by former professional Jean Stablinski, who had worked in the mine under the woods of Arenberg. Although almost 100 km from Roubaix, the sector usually proves decisive and as Stablinski said “Paris–Roubaix is not won in Arenberg, but from there the group with the winners is selected.”
To save our legs for tomorrows cyclo Sportif, we will offer an easy ride from Roubaix back to our hotel in Ypres.
After lunch, we will visit the Flanders Fields which were the scene of some of the most fierce battles of World War 1. We’ll have our guide who will show us the famous and the more hidden war monuments. One of the most famous ones is the Tyne Cot Cemetery, where there is an interesting display of the battles fought in this area and the resting place of many Australians and British soldiers.
The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by King Albert I of Belgium in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire in the defence and liberation of Belgium during the war. It is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war.
The name “Tyne Cot” is said to come from the Northumberland Fusiliers seeing a resemblance between the German concrete pillboxes, which still stand in the middle of the cemetery, and typical Tyneside workers’ cottages – Tyne Cots.
To complete our day, on our return we will head to an early dinner (provided tonight) to be able to see the last post at the Menin Gate.
Every evening (at 8 pm) since 1928, the Last Post has been sounded under the imposing memorial arches of the Menin Gate. The Last Post is the traditional salute to the fallen and is played in honour of the memory of the soldiers of the then British Empire, who fought and died in the ‘Immortal Ypres Salient’ between 1914 and 1918.