Belgium, 1-day Road Race, 121.9km
|2012 winner Adrie Visser, pictured at the
2012 Thuringen Rundfahrt
So it's about time for the Erondegemse Pijl, then.
If you're not familiar with the Pijl, it's a simple formula. You just take one short course of 9km, one long course of 38.5km and a short circuit of 9.3km, sending the riders round the latter eight times. Then, garnish with four intermediate sprints, season with four categorised climbs of the short-but-knee-crackingly-steep the Belgians favour and, for an authentic flavour experience, baste for as long as it takes the riders to complete the parcours with the warmth-sapping rain that we tend to say Flanders "enjoys" during the Spring Classics but actually gets all year round. The organisers haven't deliberately added any cobbles, though there are a few along the road verges in case anyone overcooks the bends, but there are plenty of rough sections where the modern asphalt has sunk and now follows the shapes of the ancient pavé below.
Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
The men's version of the race is now in its 19th edition; it wasn't joined by the women's race until 2011 when Chantal Blaak won, followed by Adrie Visser in 2012.
View Erondegemse Pijl 2013 in a larger map
Neutral Zone - yellow
Short Course - blue
Long Course - red
Circuit - purple
Full details not yet available. Women Cycling Fever, as always, has the most accurate and regularly-updated start lists.
Visiting the race
All the Flemish races are extremely easy to reach from the United Kingdom, so why not consider going along to give the riders your support? Go by bike and, with the Belgians' legendary love for cycling and all cyclists, you'll be guaranteed an excellent short holiday and the very warmest of welcomes.
Ferries sail from Hull to Zeebrugge daily; a return trip for one adult with a bike costs around £224 with P&O, though cheaper deals may be available. Zeebrugge to Erondegem is approximately 80km, avoiding motorways. Calais to Erondegem is a much longer ride at around 180km (doable for the keen, fit cyclist; well within the ability of most people if split over two days); however, Dover to Calais with a bike by P&O costs as little as £20.
How to follow the race
More details to come...