Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 Course Preview: As it should be...

After experience a bunch of negative racing at the big boy's Ronde van Vlaanderen, this weekend's Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 Nations Cup will be the complete opposite. The course is an absolute gem and once the race hits the finishing loops around Oudenaarde, any semblance of a peloton should explode.

Course Map

The course itself is 169.7 kilometers (a bit over if you count the neutralized bit) and winds its way mainly around Oost-Vlaanderen but takes in a small bit of West-Vlaanderen and Hainaut. With the length pretty much making it a Ronde van Oudenaarde, there are not too many extra cobbled sections with just an extra 15 kilometers or so but that will certainly do damage, especially with sections such as the Mariaborrestraat on the run-up to the Steenbeekdries climb.

The climbs

  1. Kluisberg (800 meters, 7.8% avg, 14.9% max)
  2. Knokteberg (1100 meters, 8% avg, 13.5% max)
  3. Muziekbos (600 meters, 6% avg, 8% max)
  4. Pottelberg (1600 meters, 6.5% avg, 10% max)
  5. Tenbosse (500 meters, 6.1% avg, 10.5% max)
  6. Guilleminlaan (2600 meters, 1.8% avg, 7.9% max)
  7. Valkenberg (540 meters, 8.1% avg, 13.3% max)
  8. 't Hostellerie (Langendries) (1400 meters, 4.3% avg, 11% max)
  9. Molenberg (463 meters, 7.7% avg, 14.5% max) (cobbled)
  10. Steenbeekdries (700 meters, 5.3% avg, 7% max) (cobbled)
  11. Taaienberg (530 meters, 6.6% avg, 15.8% max) (cobbled)
  12. Eikenberg (1200 meters, 5% avg, 10.5 % max) (cobbled)
  13. Steenbeekdries
  14. Taaienberg
  15. Eikenberg
*Note: Averages and max gradients are based both from organizers and Strava profiles as some numbers are a bit off. 

Taaienberg aka 'Boonen'-berg


The final two loops will be the most important with the two-kilometer long Mariaborrestraat playing a big role in separating the chaff before the Steenbeekdries. With six-man teams, attacks will be flying all over the place so you will not be seeing teams controlling the race over the latter climbs as much as in the big boy's race. The final summit of the Eikenberg comes only 9 kilometers from the finish in Oudenaarde so there is a strong possibility that a rider will be finishing solo. 

Once I can cobble together a provisional startlist, watch out for a race preview!

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