The spring classics: both top sport and folklore
‘A bicycle, a bicycle, my kingdom for a bicycle.” Shakespeare’s masterpiece Richard III would sound different if it were set in Flanders. Here the two-wheeler dominates our lives. Especially when the spring classics are coming, a wonderful marriage of top sport and tradition.
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: the cycling year. This has been marked by a dot on our calendars for years.
Flanders is crazy about cycling. As soon as the bicycle, in addition to being a means of transport, became an instrument for competing in exciting competitions, it won our hearts. That love is expressed every year in the spring. Then the Flemish countryside, with its rolling landscapes, steep slopes, and rough cobblestones, is the setting for a unique series of competitions. This is where the best cyclists compete for the top of the podium. While their exploits exemplify top-level sport, a huge national celebration is taking place along 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 candy, 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. Goosebumps for spectators and riders alike. Are you unafraid of a 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 is a series of unforgettable moments. It works towards one ultimate high point. The holiest of all Sundays, the most beautiful day of the year: the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Maybe the sun is shining, or maybe it’s raining cats and dogs, but at any rate, a crowd is ready to participate in this unique national celebration. On average, you will find a million revelers on the side of the road, about one in six Flemings. Once that magnificent spectacle has passed, we raise a toast to the glory of the Ronde. Then we start counting down again to the next Flemish springtime.