Tour of Flanders Sportive 2014
TSC travelled to Oudenaarde for the 2014 edition of the Tour of Flanders, taking in the 134km Sportive on the Saturday before watching the pro Men and Womens races on the Sunday.
Boarding the Thursday evening ferry from Newcastle to Ijmuden, Netherlands the team enjoyed a good few pints of Heineken, some prawn sandwiches and cans of Primus before a nights kip ahead of the drive down to Belgium. Things didn’t go so smoothly as had been planned, with Team Bus Diggers breaking down on the Rotterdam ring road and an 8 hour delay while she was fixed. The team eventually arrived at The Outsider campsite just outside of Oudenaarde town centre at 11pm and had a quick beverage in the Den Dronk tavern.
Saturday was the day of the sportive, and a 5 minute bike ride to the Qubus centre, 1km North of Oudenaarde’s Grand Place was completed before quickly signing on around 9am and crossing the startline at 9:20am. The Qubus had places to leave luggage and clothing securely and also had free shower facilities for after the ride as well as many bike stalls, beer tents and chip stands!
The Sportive was superbly organised, with marshalling at every corner, great signposting and hardly ever a need to stop while crossing busy roads (we stopped twice all day). While the roads were busy with cyclists, it was never so busy as to feel uncomfortable or have to dismount on climbs. The feed stations were also pretty hard to find any negatives about, with thousands of breakfast bars, waffles, cakes and unlimited amounts of energy drinks as well as toilet facilities. TSC paid the €5 deposit to get timing chips, and this allowed us to be videoed around the course and have photos taken.
We crossed the Professional finish line, and this was the most crowded part, with most considering it their finish too, rather than the finish line back at the Qubus. A bit of slow moving through the crowd before riding into Oudenaarde and being photographed with the podium girls and being interviewed by the PA announcer was completed before finally arriving back at Qubus to hand our chip in (choosing a T-shirt rather than the €5 cash) and having a cold Primus.
Watching the Mens and Womens race on Sunday was equally pleasant, with The Outsider a 15 minute walk to the Grand Place where the Ladies were presented ahead of their 11am start. Free buses could be taken from close to Qubus taking you to the main viewing points around the course, with us deciding to head for Kwaremont to watch the Men’s first ascent, before walking the 2km to Paterberg to see the final ascent of the Ladies race and then the last 2 climbs of the Mens circuit, while having a beer watching the big screen. Beer was even reduced to €1 a glass toward the end, before taking a free bus back to the campsite!
All in all a fantastic weekend that we couldn’t recommend enough, especially considering the sportive was €24 to enter, campsite €10 a night and free buses to watch the mens race, its a ‘must do’!
Check out our photos at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.603782943068675.1073741850.183834381730202&type=1
2011 Weekend to Oudenaarde
A long weekend trip to Belgium saw TSC conquer the famous climbs of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Belgium proved itself to be a country simply made for cycling as its fantastically well sign-posted routes made cobble bashing an absolute pleasure for the team.
Arrival in Dunkirk on Friday saw the squad hit Auchan supermarket to fill the campers up with Kronie and UCI-approved steaks before zooming off to their base in Munkzwalm, 13km outside of the city of Oudenaarde. After a long days travel and heavy night on the bevvy in Dover it was decided to just make a casual ride into the RVV Museum, sink a cold one and hit back to basecamp for bottles and BBQ.
Saturday was the first full training run on Belgian soil as TSC followed the Orange (72km) Ronde Route taking in the Kruisberg, Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg, Eikenberg, Knokteberg and Molenberg aswell as nailing the dreaded Koppenberg. General opininon in the camp was that the Koppenberg was the hardest, closely followed by the Paterberg and Molenberg. Once back to basecamp, the team were welcomed into the RVV Museum and finished the afternoon with a “Armstrong Pils” and back to the site for a BBQ.
On the final day the Green Route (114km) was undertaken by the team, with a ride over climbs such as the Berendries, Valkenberg, Rekelberg, Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg before swooping into the finish town in Meerbeke. Once again, the route was perfectly signposted with the majority of the ride on designated cycle paths. On the way back home the lads n lasses called in the the Cafe den Engel, former home on Tom Simpson.
Watch this space for the announcement of the next TSC trip to this wonderful place. Photos can be found at the bottom of this page. http://www.flickr.com/photos/14517535@N04/sets/72157627431589823