Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Nokere Koerse and Gent-Wevelgem, the E3 Classic and Dwars door Vlaanderen. And then the icing on the cake: The Ronde van Vlaanderen. Our hearts start racing, our pupils dilate, the corners of our mouths turn upwards. Spring is approaching, and in Flanders that means one thing: cycling. This has been marked on our calendars since time began.
Flanders is crazy about cycling. As soon as the bicycle became an instrument for competing in exciting competitions, as well as transport, it won our hearts. Every Spring the Flemish countryside, with its rolling landscapes, steep slopes and rough cobblestones, is the setting for a unique series of races, where world-class cyclists compete for the top podium position. While their exploits are an example of top-level sport, a huge national celebration is taking place along the Flemish roads.
Wherever the peloton flashes by, it is welcomed with open arms by countless spectators, supporters and cycling fans. First, they welcome the publicity caravan, which rewards young and old with sweets, cycling caps, jerseys and other memorabilia. Then the real work starts. The leading pack is greeted with loud applause and yells and the peloton is given the same welcome.
This enthusiastic greeting looks and sounds most impressive at the key points of the courses. On famous slopes such as the Paterberg, Oude Kwaremont or Muur van Geraardsbergen, or along illustrious cobblestone stretches such as the Haaghoek or the Paddestraat, the public lines up hours in advance. The gladiators on two wheels are hailed as heroes and pedal right through a wall of sound, creating goose bumps, for spectators and riders alike. A unique sensation that the fans can also simulate themselves. Are you brave enough to take on the challenge? Then register for one of the cyclosportives. They will send you and your racing bike along the courses of these unique races.
The Flemish spring cycling season creates a series of unforgettable moments. It works towards one ultimate pinnacle, the holiest of all Sundays, the most beautiful day of the year: the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Maybe the sun is shining or it’s raining cats and dogs, but at any rate the crowd is ready to participate in this unique national celebration. On average you will find a million spectators on the side of the road, about one in six Flemings.
Once that magnificent spectacle has passed, we raise a glass to the glory of the Ronde. Then we start counting down again to the next one.