The Tour of Flanders is a classic road race, famous for brutal climbs and even more brutal cobbled sections. However, there's now an off-road option open to the general public which should provide just as much of a challenge for gravel and mountain bike riders.
The event is being held on the 6th October 2018 and ss well as throwing in some cobbled sections just to ensure you get a feel of the roady Ronde, this new route promises "hidden off-road alternatives to real Ronde van Vlaanderen monuments. You will rediscover among others the Koppenberg, Hotond and Oude Kwaremont along the forest or in the field".
There's a choice of 80km, 50km or 30km routes, with the (space limited) option of a timed mass start on the longer loop for those that want to test their legs against others, though the organisers emphasise that it's not a race. Rather interestingly, the circuit will take mountain bikers and gravel riders on different routes in certain places; we assume that mountain bikers will be treated to a more technical option.
Entrants will get all the usual extras you'd expect from a large-scale event, with food stops, technical support, timing, photos and video, bike washes, showers and a massage at the finish. Of course, if you fancy making a bit more of the event then there's lots to see and do in the area, with the rather lovely city of Ghent nearby, plus loads more riding in the Ardennes. We'd suggest you save hitting the Trappist beers and frites for after the event though.
Early bird entry will cost a mere €10 for the 30km route and €14 for the 50km and 80km options, though you'll have to cough up €22 for the mass start event. We reckon that's a bit of a bargain, even when you factor in flights/driving and accommodation.
More details can be found at the site below:
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