There has basically been bike racing happening since the Tour Down Under in January and I’m having a hard time keeping up with the many stage races that are going on at the moment. However, for many including me, the ‘real’ start of the season is this coming weekend, with the first two races in cycling’s homeland – Belgium.
Above is a photo of the chapel at the top of the Muur van Geraardsbergen, or for those who prefer the shorter French – Mur de Grammont. This gnarly cobbled climb is near the end of the 200 or so kilometers of the first race this Saturday: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, which apparently doesn’t translate into any other language, so you’re stuck with that name.
This is a real classics race with lots of short and sharp climbs and usually ending with a very small group of elite ‘hard men’, often of Belgian blood. Here’s someone far less hard (or Belgian) climbing to the top of the muur a few years ago.
Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, which never actually hits Brussels at all, is raced the day after, on Sunday. It is a less climby parcours with an especially long and flat run-in to the finish line in Kuurne. It is the ‘sprinters’ classic’ and has seen the likes of Cavendish and Groenewegen win in recent editions. The profile below shows the pannenkoek nature of the last 45 km.
If you’d like to watch these races live or later, give Tiz Cycling a go. I don’t know how this guy is getting away with what he does, but he somehow manages to stream all races and has a huge stock in his archives to watch as well. If it’s illegal, you didn’t hear about him from me!