This year’s Tour of Flanders sportive will follow quite a different route to pro peloton and tackle three fewer hills. As expected, the route is a little shorter at 244km as it doesn’t include the three finishing circuits. The organisers quite sensibly realised that the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg will be crowded enough without sending many of the 20,000 entrants on a second or third loop. The pros will do 13 different hills while we’ll do fourteen, however, we’ll miss the Nokereberg, Rekelberg and Hoogberg and instead do the Kappelleberg, Foreest, Berg Ten Houte and Knokteberg.

Here are the hills included in the 2012 Sportive:

  1. Molenberg 118km
  2. Berendries 138km
  3. Valkenberg 143km
  4. Koppenberg 177km
  5. Steenbeekdries 179km
  6. Taaienberg 181km
  7. Eikenberg 186km
  8. Kapelleberg 187km
  9. Foreest 195km
  10. Berg Ten Houte 201km
  11. Kruisberg 212km
  12. Knokteberg 220km
  13. Oude Kwaremont 227km
  14. Paterberg 231km

Compare these to the 17 hills on the 256km Pro route and you’ll see that we’ll be doing what appears to be a very different route:

  1. Nokereberg 88km
  2. Taaienberg 111km
  3. Eikenberg 117km
  4. Molenberg 133km
  5. Rekelberg 148km
  6. Berendries 153km
  7. Valkenberg 158km
  8. Oude Kwaremont 180km
  9. Paterberg 184km
  10. Koppenberg 191km
  11. Steenbeekdries 194km
  12. Kruisberg/Hotond 205km
  13. Oude Kwaremont 217km
  14. Paterberg 220km
  15. Hoogberg/Hotond 227km
  16. Oude Kwaremont 237km
  17. Paterberg 240km

No Muur for Tour of Flanders

September 23, 2011

The 2012 Tour of Flanders will finish in Oudenaarde instead of Meerbeke near Ninove so the organisers have significantly redesigned the route. Not only is the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen out but so is the Bosberg and instead, the riders will do three circuits of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg with a little variety after each one. This should be fairly straightforward to organise for the pro race but I’m curious to see how the sportive plans to handle the circuits. It is likely to get quite crowded on the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg as both are quite narrow.

Paterberg by elchiquito used under license.

Here are the hills and cobbles from the official 2012 Elite Men Route Map:

Ronde van Vlaanderen ‘Hellingen’ 2012

  1. Nokereberg 88km
  2. Taaienberg 111km
  3. Eikenberg 117km
  4. Molenberg 133km
  5. Rekelberg 148km
  6. Berendries 153km
  7. Valkenberg 158km
  8. Oude Kwaremont 180km
  9. Paterberg 184km
  10. Koppenberg 191km
  11. Steenbeekdries 194km
  12. Kruisberg/Hotond 205km
  13. Oude Kwaremont 217km
  14. Paterberg 220km
  15. Hoogberg/Hotond 227km
  16. Oude Kwaremont 237km
  17. Paterberg 240km

Ronde van Vlaanderen ‘Kasseien’ (cobbles) 2012

  1. Huisepontweg 93km
  2. Doorn 96km
  3. Holleweg 119km
  4. Ruiterstraat 121km
  5. Kerkgate 124km
  6. Jagerij 127km
  7. Paddestraat 137km
  8. Mariaborrestraat 193km
  9. Donderij 196km

Here’s the route card I’ve prepared for this year’s sportive. I figure I’ll laminate it and keep it in my pocket for easy reference during the ride. I’ve included the four feed stops and made a note for which one will have the bag waiting for me that I will have dropped off at the start. I’ll probably be ready to shed my knee and arm warmers by then (if the weather is good) and pick up a second batch of bars, gels and drink mix.

You’ll also notice that I’ve included the eight longer sections of pavé that are on the route:

  • Heuisepontweg (1,800m)
  • Doorn (2,000m)
  • Paddestraat (2,200m)
  • Lippenhovestraat (1,300m)
  • Mariaborrestraat (2,000m)
  • Holleweg (1,500m)
  • Kerkgate (1,500m)
  • Haaghoek (2,000)

I figure it will be handy to have a little warning for these too, not just the 17 climbs.

Tour of Flanders Climbs

February 14, 2011


The eighteen climbs of the 2011 Tour of Flanders sportive are:

  1. 70km Tiegemberg, 750m long, average gradient 5.6%, maximum gradient 9%
  2. 80km Nokereberg, 350m, ave 5.7%, max 7%, cobbles
  3. 127km Rekelberg, 800m, ave 4%, max 9%
  4. 140km Kaperij, 1,000m, ave 5.5%, max 9%
  5. 154km Kruisberg, 1,000m, ave 6.5%, max 9%, 500m cobbles
  6. 164km Knokteberg, 1,100m, ave 8%, max 13%
  7. 171km Oude Kwaremont, 2,200m, ave 4%, max 11.6%, 1,500m cobbles
  8. 174km Paterberg, 360m, ave 12.9%, max 20.3%, cobbles
  9. 181km  Koppenberg, 660m, ave 11.6%, max 22%, cobbles
  10. 186km Steenbeekdries, 700m, ave 5.3%, max 6.7%, cobbles
  11. 189km Taaienberg, 530m, ave 6.6%, max 15.8%, 520m cobbles
  12. 194km Eikenberg, 1,300m, ave 6.2%, max 10%, 1,200m cobbles
  13. 209km Molenberg, 463m, ave 7%, max 14.2%, 300m cobbles
  14. 216km Leberg, 950m, ave 4.2%, max 13.8%
  15. 224km Valkenberg, 540m, ave 8.1%, max 12.8%
  16. 231km Tenbosse, 450m, ave 6.9%, max 8.7%
  17. 243km Muur-Kapelmuur, 475m, ave 9.3, max 19.8%, cobbles
  18. 246km Bosberg, 980m, ave 5.8%, max 11%, 400m cobbles

Staying focused over winter

December 30, 2010

I’m so glad the snow has melted and we can get out into the lanes again. I was finding it all too easy to stay indoors and skip a scheduled training session when there was so much snow and ice around. My biggest motivator to either get out there or onto the indoor trainer is to look at the calendar. So far, I’m committing to three big rides and one fun one next year plus a week in southern Spain’s Sierra Nevada Mountains with Vamos Cycling to prepare for it all.

My key cycling events for 2011:

  • Feb: Training week
  • Apr: 260km Tour of Flanders Sportive
  • Apr: 165km Paris-Roubaix Challenge
  • Jun: 200km Dragon Ride
  • Jul: 180km Dunwich Dynamo

The overnight Dunwich Dynamo is obvious the fun ride. I’ve ridden the past four editions and wouldn’t miss it for the world. The Tour of Flanders Sportive and Paris-Roubaix Challenge are on successive weekends so I’d better be in great shape to do well in them. There is a shorter version of Flanders (150km) which includes most of the main route’s climbs and pavé sectors that I may opt for if my preparation hasn’t been ideal. Lastly, I’d like to include a few local sportives to break up the rest of the year. SWRC’s May Flyer looks promising, as does the Castle Ride 100 but after such an intense start to the year, it may be nice to relax over summer and just enjoy our weekly club rides in the North Downs.

The key to getting over the cobbles is power. You need to be able to keep your speed up so you’re clipping over rather than bouncing off the cobbles. Maintaining a high gear will help you to keep your power up and not spinning out when your rear wheel slips.

Here are a few other things I’ve found make the ride easier:

  • Metal bottle cages folded in for an extra tight grip so you don’t lose them on the first sector
  • Gel inserts under your bar tape makes it easier to hold your bars loosely and guide rather than steer your front wheel
  • Regular double (not compact) chainset is better for keep the power up over the cobbles and then cruising at a decent speed on the flat sections
  • Handmade 32 spoke wheels with spokes at 80% tension help absorb the vibrations
  • Near new tyres, 25mm front at 90 psi, 28mm rear at 80 psi
  • Bigger seat pack for tubes (x3), patches, tyre boots, tyre levers, CO2 cannisters, multi-tool, chain link and gear cable
  • Top tube box for extra bars or gels if you’re doing the long route as relying on unfamiliar feed stop provisions might see you visiting the toilet more often than you want to
  • Laminated pavé list for easy reference along the route helps you prepare for what’s ahead
  • Metal bike frame although carbon is bound to fine as long as you don’t crash

Anything I’ve forgotten?

Here’s Specialized’s Nicolas Sims showing us Fabian Cancellara’s SRM power data from his winning ride in the 2010 Tour of Flanders.

  • Average power 285 watts
  • Max power 1,450 watts
  • Average heart rate 143 bpm (75% of max)
  • Max heart rate 190 bpm
  • Average cadence 73 rpm
  • Max cadence 147 rpm
  • Average speed 40 kph
  • Max speed 80 kph
  • Total time 6 hrs 22 min
  • Total energy 6,459 kJ

The key thing I notice is that he didn’t work any harder than I do on my long rides, he just generates a LOT more power.