Thursday, 2 May 2013

Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik 2013

26.05.2013 Technical Guide here
Belgium, One-day Road Race, 133.1km
UCI 1.2

In 2012, Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik formed part of the Lotto Cup; in 2013, there's precious little information on the race to be found - the link provided by the UCI and elsewhere to the official site leads to the site of Telenet (presumably a sponsor, but with no obvious link to a page with race details). Googling the name only comes up with start lists offered by a few sites (the excellent Cycling Fever has the most up-to-date example). The average casual fan, those who wanted to know a few facts and figures but isn't especially bothered about the finer details of the race, will have given up at that point, perhaps assuming that Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik is just the latest in a succession of races to have fallen prey to financial pressures, vanishing forever as a result. So, that fan forgets about it all and, if he or she fancies a bit of cycling action that weekend he or she will have a look at the Boucles de l'Aulne-Châteaulin, Race Horizon Park or Città di San Vendemiano-GP Industria e Commercio, three men's races all taking place on the same day, each of them with an excellent website to keep fans up to date, and by 2014 he or she will have forgotten Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik ever existed... which, ladies and gentlemen, is why it's absolutely essential that all organisers of women's cycling races follow the example set by races such as the Energiewacht Tour and Trofeo Binda and provide up-to-date informative websites. Races, and women's cycling, need fans in order to survive; but we need information if we're going to be fans.

Anyway, being an obsessed fan rather than a casual one and therefore somewhat more determined (plus the chances of there being more than a handful of English-language pages covering this race are minute, so it's a good chance to drive up the ol' hit counter a bit), I eventually tracked down a technical guide. So, here's the preview.

The Parcours
Large scale, high detail map (6mb; © OpenStreetMap
contributors): click here or use the QR code below
This is another race in which the organisers have wisely adopted the big circuit/little circuit format that consists of one large main section followed by several laps of a small section, thus allowing fans to see the riders go past (or to move to different locations) several times, rather than having to wait at the roadside for just one glimpse. The Grote Ronde, or main section, is 58.9km; the small circuit is 10.6km long and will be completed seven times to give a total distance of 133.1km. A look at the altimetry profile reveals that this most definitely isn't a race for the sprinters with four GPM climbs and numerous smaller hills along the main section and a selection of smaller climbs that, although not as steep, will have a painful combined effect over the course of the seven laps around the small circuit. The final approach to the finish line is also uphill.

QR CodeGooik, home to around 9,000 people, is a pleasant-looking town that seems to have grown up along the various roads connecting it to other places rather around a central feature, making it look a bit like a spider's web on the map. The Grote Ronde main section begins on the flat cobbles of Dorpstraat by Cafe Feestzaal de Vrede, within sight of the impressive 12th Century Sint-Niklaaskerk church, then follows the road as it bends to the east and becomes Wijngaardstraat 100m from the start line; 730m from the bend is a roundabout where the race turns south onto the N285 Edingsesteenweg opposite a spectacularly boring shopping centre. The N285 is wide, smooth and, for the first 800m, downhill; there are two small climbs in the section's remaining 3.3km at Lerbeeke and just before Brugge but their gradient is only a little over 4% and won't slow the race down, so there's very little opportunity for an early breakaway. At Brugge, 4.9km from the start of the race, the parcours turns right onto N272 Langestraat at a junction made technical and potentially hazardous by the presence of a slightly raised brickwork cobbled section running between the two roads - it's the perfect place for spilled oil, loose gravel and an assortment of puncture-causing debris to collect.

Big circuit altimetry
Langestraat, also wide and smooth with three 20m climbs no steeper than 4.5% runs west for 6km, then the riders turn right onto the N255 Ninoofsesteenweg. The junction isn't technical and leads via a small climb (maximum 6.8%) into Vollezele before the parcours continues north, mostly downhill, to Denderwindeke and, 15.6km from the start, a left turn with another slightly raised brick section leading onto Krepelstraat which runs west for 3.6km via Nieuwenhove, uphill all the way (but not steeper than 4.6%) to a right-hand junction onto Heidestraat. The following 100m climb as steeply as 6%, then the road flattens out for the next 260m until the riders arrive at a left turn onto Bovenkassei, a corner that may prove dangerous to the poor condition of the road surface. The road passes through forest (more prime puncture territory) for 400m, then emerges for 1.5km to Zandbergen; all but the first stretch into the forest is downhill and, in places, descends steeply enough to put those climbers who dislike descending (as many of them do, due to lacking the weight needed to keep a bike steady on a downhill) at a disadvantage - this could, therefore, be the first time in the race that a break has a chance to get away from the peloton. In Zandbergen, 21.7km from the start and on more brick cobbles, the race  turns left onto Peperstraat and begins to travel south-west. Peperstraat becomes Lestpolder and then Rijtestraat en route to Grimminge, then once more changes name to become Klakvijverstraat after the village; a fork in the road at Onkerzele marks 24.7km ridden and the peloton stays left to take Onkerzelestraat. The first part of the Zandbergen to Onkerzelestraat section is flat, but over the last 950m it climbs approximately 25m at an average gradient of 3.6%, maximum 6%. After 26.2km, on the outskirts of Onkerzele, the riders turn right onto the much narrower Kampstraat, following it downhill for 480m to a left turn at a crossroads leading onto Volderstraat. 2.23km later, the section ends at a large roundabout on the edge of Geraardsbergen (Grammont), the largest town on the parcours and 28.8km from the start line.

Riders tackle the Muur van Geraardsbergen
during the 2006 Ronde van Vlaanderen voor
At the roundabout, the race continues straight ahead on Weverijstraat for 410m, then turns left onto Denderstraat which becomes Abdijstraat after a couple of hundred metres. After 388m, it turns right for Vesten leading onto Oudenbergstraat and, 30km from the start, to the first of the big GPM climbs - the Muur van Geraardsbergen, also known as the Mur de Grammont or Kapelmuur for the little chapel on top. Narrow, cobbled and in places as steep as 20%, the climb is well-known to cyclists as the scene of many decisive moments in numerous races including the men's and women's Ronde van Vlaanderen; the cobbles are laid in a horizontal pattern designed to make life easier for pedestrians (and coincidentally much harder for cyclists) by acting as low steps, according to COTACOL it's the hardest climb in Flanders, but with 101km still to go to the end of the race it's unlikely to prove decisive today.

Leaving the Muur via Driepikkel, the riders soon come to a right turn onto Oude Steenweg. Going straight ahead at the crossroads 70m from the turn carries them back onto Onkerzelestraat, then 400m the road forks and they stay right to take Brusselsestraat heading south-east for 1.5km to Atembeke - the first 750m descends steeply, giving riders left behind on the Muur a chance to reduce any gap the climbers gained. They follow the road left, then 40m later right to pass through the village, arriving 32.8km from the start at a left turn onto Kapellestraat, leading onto the second GPM climb Bosberg.

Bosberg has, since 1950 when it featured in the Omloop Het Volk, appeared in many races over the years and has frequently been the final climb in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The maximum gradient is 11%; the cobbles start as the road enters the forest and are made more demanding by occasional concrete slabs. The forest is Raspaillebos which, long before it became a nature reserve, contained a monastery; deep among the trees is a tiny chapel called Juffrouwkapel which, sadly, seems to attract more vandals than pilgrims nowadays. Once over the crest of the climb the road becomes Heirbaan and continues to a point 35.1km from the start where the riders keep right to take Dorekensstraat heading downhill to Waarbeke; at 36.9km the riders turn right onto the very narrow Bronstraat - if a small group got away on the preceding descent, they may choose this section to increase speed in an effort to get away knowing that the restricted road width will make it more difficult for the peloton to organise chasers. After 82m, they turn left onto Steenberg; 1.7km further on at substantial redbrick farm buildings the road becomes Congobergstraat and begins the third GPM climb, Congoberg. It's not such a well-known hill as the Muur and Bosberg, but coming so soon after them and with a maximum gradient when climbed from the west of over 8% it's definitely a challenge and could very easily end any break that got away on Bronstraat.

At the top of Congoberg, 39.8km from the start, the race turns right onto Reepingestraat and heads downhill for the next 1.7km on a road straight and wide enough for even the lightest climbers to let gravity do the work, making it a very fast section. It ends with a tight left-hand bend (with a ditch waiting to catch out anyone who doesn't brake in time on the far side of the road), then 270m ahead the riders turn left to join the same section of the N255 Ninoofsesteenweg they took to leave Langestraat earlier on. They continue through Vollezele and back into Denderwindeke, but this time turn right onto Linkebeek 120m before the point where earlier they turned left onto Krepelstraat. 924km after the turn they turn right again to take Vreckom for 1.5km to another right onto Opperstebosstraat - a difficult corner as the smooth tarmac on the approach is replaced by rough cobbles just around the apex. 400m ahead the cobbles continue as the race turns left onto Blijkheerstraat, then for the next 650m until they give way to asphalt for the remaining 280m to the gentle right turn onto Bergstraat which leads to a tight left onto Vollezelestraat 51km from the start. Bergstraat to Vollezelestraat is the fourth and final GPM climb, ascending around 50m with an average gradient of 7.3%, rising to 12% at the steepest point by the forest on the right.

In Gracht, 52.3km from the start, the road forks and the riders go left to take Kloosterstraat into Oetingen. At a gentle right bend it becomes Kerkstraat, then past the crossroads just ahead Lenniksestraat leading  1.6km to a junction with the N28 Ninoofsesteenweg, where the race turns left - there's a traffic island in the middle of the N28, reducing space if the peloton try to get round en masse. They remain on the N28 for 1.7km; the first 1.5 are downhill and the entire stretch is smooth and straight, so it'll be no time at all until they arrive at the right turn onto Strijlandstraat 56.7km from the start. The road bends to the right 110m later, then proceeds for 2km to a left/right pair of bends where it becomes Terlostreet; at another left bend 0.5km ahead it becomes Koekoekstraat leading for 650m to a gentle right bend onto Dorpstraat in Gooik, at which point the finish line is 150m ahead.

Small circuit altimetry
The little circuits begin at the same point at the big circuit and take the same route onto the N285 Edingsesteenweg. However, instead of continuing south to Langestraat, the parcours turns right at Leerbeek 2.9km from the start line to take the N28 Ninoofsesteenweg heading west for 3.99km (a small climb with a maximum gradient of 6.3% in the first kilometre will have a big effect over the course of seven laps) to the same junction with Strijlandstraat, then retraces the route back into Gooik.

Start List
Subject to change; Women Cycling Fever is your best bet for regularly-updated accuracy.

1 DE VOCHT Liesbeth
2 VOS Marianne
4 DE JONG Thalita
6  TALEN Rebecca

7 VISSER Adrie
8 BRAS Martine 
10 DAAMS Jessie 
11 KASPER Romy 
12 KESSLER Nina 

15 ELVIN Gracie
16 SPRATT Amanda
17 CROMWELL Tiffany
18 HOSKINS Melissa 

19 BRULEE Latoya 
20 RYAN Carla
23 VAN DOORSLAER Annelies 
24 HATCH Elizabeth

25 LETH Julie 
26 FAHLIN Emilia 
27 NEYLAN Rachel
29 RATTO Rossella
30 THORSEN Thea 

32 GILMORE Rochelle
33 KITCHEN Lauren
34 TROTT Laura
35 COLLINS Emily
36 HAGIWARA Mayuko

37 BECKER Charlotte
38 BUSSER Janneke
39 GARNER Lucy
40 JOHREND Marlen 
42 WILD Kirsten

43 HOFMANN Sarah Lena 
45 KOSTER Anouska Helena
46 VAN DER MEER Janine
48 WAGENAAR Mirthe 

49 DE VRIES Marijn
51 DUYCK Ann-Sophie 
52 HANNES Kaat 
54 VAN SEVEREN Celine 

Parkhotel Valkenburg
55 ESHUIS Aafke
56 VAN DEN HOEK Bianca
57 KLEP Inge
58 MARKUS Riejanne
59 SLIK Rozanne 
60 SOEMANTA Lisanne

61 OLSSON Madeleine
62 KIHLBOM Jessica 
63 SÖDERBERG Isabelle
64 NILSSON Hanna 
65 THOMASSON Martina 
66 NILSSON Johanna 

Keukens Redant
67 DEBBOUDT Lensy 
68 DEMEY Valerie 
69 ROBERT Valerie 

73 DRUYTS Jessy 
74 DRUYTS Kelly 
76 DE MOYER Tessa 
77 DE CROOCK Stephanie 
78 DE CRITS Nel 

RC Jan van Arckel
79 PEETOOM Kristen
80 OLTHUIS Esther
81 SPOOR Winanda
82 TENNIGLO Moniek

NWVG-Bike4air Ladies Cycling
85 DONKERS Djoeke
87 POSTMA Mary Rose
88 LENTING Charlotte
89 VAN KATWIJK Nathalie
90 LISSENBERG Daniëlle 

91 VAN HORIK Sofie
92 PASVEER Annemarie
93 VAN SANTEN Domenique
94 KOORN Harriet
95 VAN TOL Nina
96 VAN DAM Yvonne

Autoglas Wetteren-Group Solar 
97 CATTRYSE Melanie 
98 BREYNE Mariska 
100 BERTON Fatima 
101 VAN DE VOORDE Isabel
102 DE VESTELE Adeline 

103 DE VUYST Sofie 
104 BUYL Kimberly 
106 ROGGEMAN Inge 
107 POLSPOEL Maaike 
108 BAMELIS Sanne 

110 GODART Béatrice
111 GODART Suzie
112 GOMEZ Sandra
114 STOLBOVA Svetlana 

Endura Lady Force
115 GEOGHEGAN Michelle
117 CLAESSEN Marjolein
119 KLOK Ines
120 WOERING Henriette

121 LARI Marina
122 DEFILÉ Corinna 
123 CORNOLTI Veronica
125 TASCA Roberta
126 NANNI Giorgia

Dura Vermeer 
128 VAN GOGH Natalie
129 PEETERS Charlotte
130 VERSTRATEN Chantal
131 ROOS Brigitta
132 DE HEER Jorinda

133 BLINDYUK Yulia 
135 MISHINA Maria 
136 CHULKOVA Anastasiya 
137 DOBRYNINA Kseniya 

Breast Cancer Care 
140 EWING Anne
142 ROWSON Penny
143 SHAW Gabriella
144 WEAVER Molly 

Water, Land en Dijken
145 SMITH Corrinne 
146 SLEWE Melissa
147 JOCHEMS Sigrid
148 LANDSMAN Lisette
150 KUIPER Jitske 

Mix ARC Ulysses-West Frisia-Matrix Fitness
151 OLSSON Sara 
152 SMITS Jessica 
153 SIGGAARD Christina 
154 GRANT Emma 
155 VADAROS Christina 
156 HOFLAND Gina 

Wielerclub De Sprinters Malderen
157 BURFORD Léonie
158 CEULEMANS Dunja 
159 HOFFMANN Chantal
160 LEENKNEGT Liliane 
161 ROELEN Evy 
162 WERNER Laure 

Napoleon Games-St. Martinus CT-Kerksken
163 COTTEELS Julie 
164 ACCOE Joyce 
165 SEGHERS Nele 
166 THOMAS Claire 
167 SIBICK Helga 
168 DELTOMBE Evelien

More information closer to race day

How to follow the race
With no official website available at the time of writing it's impossible to know what sort of coverage will be available. As ever, Karl Lima (manager of the Hitec Products-UCK team), Richie Steege (mechanic of Boels-Dolmans), Bart Hazen (photographer and journalist) and Anton Vos (journalist and brother of Marianne) will be the best choice for regular informed and informative live updates from the race.

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