Stretching a whopping 181km, this route is solely the reserve of trained athletes keen to push themselves to the limit. It was put together by experts, with special attention to tackling the right hills in the right direction. As well as in Oudenaarde, you can also start this route in Ronse or Geraardsbergen. There are also optional short cuts at various points. Whatever you decide, for safety reasons this route should always be ridden clockwise.
* Whether the roughest and toughest stretches of “Flanders’ Finest” are dry and dusty or wet and slippery, the Cancellara in you just can’t wait to be unleashed.
* You’re not scared of a pro racing route. What was the race record again? Just you wait!
* You want to feel those cobblestones and the bumpier the better.
* For you, gently pedalling along is simply not an option. Nor is “giving up” part of your vocabulary.
The Volkegemberg was included 17 times (1974-1984, 1991-1996) in the Tour of Flanders. Until 1982 the slope consisted entirely of cobblestone road, after that it became an asphalt road with another 200 meters of cobblestone at the top. At the moment in the race the riders descend this slope and make a right turn at the foot to start the climb of the Wolvenberg.
This is one of the signature cobblestone roads in Flanders. The cobbles in this two kilometre stretch are rough but what makes this road really special is how it sinks in the middle, causing a slight descent at the start and a rise at the end. The Haaghoek is featured in races such as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and Tour of Flanders.
This asphalted climb is regulary featured in the Flemish spring classics. It's positioned immediately after the legendary cobbles of the Haaghoek. The Leberg is 700m long and has an average gradient of 6,1% with its steepest point, 14%, in a right-hand curve at the bottom of the climb. The climb connects to the last bit of the Pottenberg which is less steep, but runs exposed through fields and acres, causing wind to have a significant influence.
Toepkapel is a beautiful yet tough stretch of road amongst the forests of Nederbrakel en route for the chapel that lies at the top of the hill. The wellknown “Top” brand of spring water is bottled just a stone’s throw from here at the foot of the hill. This stretch guarantees a challenging but rewarding climb of maximum 12% over a total length of 400 metres.
Vesten, Muur & Kapelmuur
The legendary 'Muur van Geraardsbergen' (Grammont Wall) takes you to the 110 meter high summit of the Oudenberg. The 910m long climb has an average and maximum incline of 9% and 20% respectively. For decades De Muur was both the penultimate and decisive climb of the Ronde. Also other races such as the Three Days of De Panne, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Eneco Tour use this helling to separate the men from the boys. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the lovely neobaroque church on the top of the Kapelmuur, which will be a welcome stop after a 20% steep climb.
The Valkenberg is legendary amongst the cycling fraternity. This 900m hill has a bit of a sting in its tail. And while the steepest point may only be 15%, you’ll burn quite a few of those calories before you reach the top. Fortunately, solace awaits at the top in the form of the café In den hengst.
Also known as 'Bosgat', this climb will definitely hurt. You start on cobbles but when the climb kicks in the cobbles are replaced by typical Belgian concrete road surface. The Kaperij was used a couple times in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and in the Omloop het Nieuwsblad. The max gradient is 8%.
The Bovenstraat/Kouterberg was an official climb in the 1991 edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. It is also called "Kouterberg", but differs from the Kouterberg as used by the Ronde between 1984 and 1990. That was on the parallel road namedThe paved climb has a altitude difference of 45 meters, a length of 1,440 meters, an average gradient of 3,4% with a maximum of 9%. After 200 meters of climbing you will find the restaurant 'Het Genot at Den Berg' on the right-hand side of the road.
Schapenberg - Scherpenberg
This hill may be one of the lesser known of the Tour of Flanders, but it is one of the toughest and most challenging in the whole Flemish Ardennes. The Schapenberg is a narrow and winding climb of 1.5 km. The steepest part is on an incline of no less than 20%! Once you reach the top of the Hotond, the view (on a clear day) stretches out all the way to France. This is, in fact, the highest point of East-Flanders (145 metres).
last climb of the day:
The ‘bump’ of Melden, as the Koppenberg is locally known, is guaranteed to add suspense to the Ronde, every year. Not surprisingly it has been listed as a national monument. This hill and over 100 acres of surrounding countryside add up to one the most beautiful natural hotspots in the Flemish Ardennes.