Gent-Wevelgem - In Flanders Fields
Known for it’s flat finish, Gent-Wevelgem has earned a name for being one of the most gruelling races for sprinters. This signposted route however, doesn't finish in Wevelgem and neither does it start in Gent. The 128km loop starts and finishes at the foot of the legendary Kemmelberg in Heuvelland, Flanders. With it 1.483 altimeters, the route focusses on the area of the West Flemish Hills (Les monts des Flandres in French) along the French-Belgian border. Expect difficult terrain, complete with cobbles, plugstreets, hills and unfavourable winds. Resolute in its history, the Gent-Wevelgem navigates a number of the battlefields from the First World War.
The route of Ghent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields conquers the most important climbs of the ‘Ghent-Wevelgem’ race. The parcours has 2 loops. You can ride the 100k loop with 3 notorious Plugstreets and 11 steep slopes, including a double climb of the Kemmelberg. Just follow the red signposts.
But to warm up you can add a 28k loop to Ypres and cycle through the Menin Gate before the real climbing starts.
Catsberg or Mont des Cats in French is an climb in the municipality of Godewaersvelde, We call this area French Flanders. The climb is pretty steep. You need to tackle about 2.5 km with an average incline of 8% and with a maximum incline of 18%. On the top you'll find an abbey where they brew trappist beer. A bit too early on the ride to taste the beer though, This hill is a beacon in the landscape. You can spot the 200-metre-tall television from nearly everywhere on this route.
The parcours of the Ghent-Wevelgem cycling classic leads the cyclists through three ‘Plugstreets’ (Hill 63, Christmas Truce and The Catacombs), semi-paved roads in and around Ploegsteert. During the war, there was fierce fighting around this village in the province of Henegouwen. It was also near the Ploegsteert forest that German and Allied soldiers briefly fraternised on Christmas 1914. The British found it difficult to pronounce the village’s name correctly, so they ended up calling it Plugstreet. The organisers wanted to integrate the Plugstreets into the route of the Ghent-Wevelgem classic to draw a link with the First World War and commemorate the victims.
Kemmelberg (from the south-east)
At 156 meters the Kemmelberg is the highest point in West Flanders. Named after the village of Kemmel on its eastern slopes, during World War One it was the scene of brutal slaughter. Today, it is the showpiece of Gent-Wevelgem, one of the great Classics and whose two ascents of the Kemmelberg’s notorious cobbled pavement, or pavé, continue to court controversy. For if the riders must climb from the south-east the Kemmel twice, they must also descend down the northern face. With its 20 per cent gradient over unpredictable terrain, the Kemmelberg has witnessed some truly horrendous crashes. The climb has now been resurfaced which makes descending a bit safer.