2014 Spring Classics- 11 Day Trip
Featuring Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix
Duration: 11 days, 10 nights
Dates: 4th April to 14th April, 2014
Start-Finish: Zaventem Airport
Accommodation: 6 nights Gent, 3 nights Ieper, 1 night Brussels
Group Size: Maximum 15 people (3 Staff)
Cost: AUD$5,750.00 per person twin share. Optional single supplement AUD$750.00
Deposit: $1000 AUD – Reserve your Place for 2014 Now
All trip costs are per person, not including airfare and based on two persons per room. If travelling alone we will match you with a person to share, or you can have a room of your own by paying the single supplement.
If you are a true Cycling Enthusiast then you make the pilgrimage once in your life!
In this great 10 days in cycling heaven you will get the chance to:
- Ride the Tour of Flanders Cycle Sport event and the Paris Roubaix Cycle Sport event.
- See two of the greatest races in the world and a semi classic:
- Tour of Flanders
- Grote Scheldeprijs
- Paris Roubaix
- Ride the famous roads with Eric de Clercq, an ex Belgian Pro
- Visit the Tour of Flanders Centre and Museum
- Visit to a Brewery
- Experience Belgian Hospitality
- Immerse yourself in a true Cycling Culture
- Visit Flanders Fields and Ieper with the Menin Gate. 2014 is 100 years since the start of WW1.
Friday, 4th April: Arrival at Bikestyle Tours Spring Classics Trip
Today we collect you from Zaventem airport in Brussels and take you to beautiful, lively Gent, our base for the next 6 nights where you can unpack and settle in.
There will be someone to meet you at the Airport and assist you to our vehicle. After we collect everyone we will be on our way to Gent and our self contained apartment-hotel in the centre of town.
Unlike the typical hotel it offers comfortable, furnished apartments with full hotel service. These apartments consist of a living-room with sitting-area, dining table and office-desk, a kitchenette with a refrigerator, two hot plates and all the necessary kitchen utensils, a separate bedroom and a bathroom. Wireless broadband internet is available in all apartments.
Centrally located in Gent, it is ideal for visiting the historic city or to the other neighbouring Flemish Cities of Art (Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels are each within 30 minutes).
The first job will be to assemble your bike and Bikestyle staff will be on hand if you have mechanical problems or need any other assistance. The rest of the day is yours.
Depending on your arrival time there should be time for a shakedown ride. It will be possible to do a ride for those who have come in the morning.
Tonight a Welcome Dinner is provided at the Hotel Restaurant and there will be plenty of time to ask questions and meet the staff and of course the people who you will be spending your holiday with and maybe a Belgian beer or two!
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Saturday, 5th April: Tour of Flanders Cycle Sport
Each year there is a special event for cycle tourists on the day before the real boys come out to play. There are 3 rides, one covering the whole course, one covering the last 140km and finally a shorter 60km ride. About 15,000 riders do this great event and you will have the opportunity to do either the 140km or the 80km event.
Our great location in Gent will be to our advantage this morning as the hotel prepares an early breakfast and we go to the start.
The 140km is the pick of the events as it gives you a true feel of the race as it traditionally goes over all the final (15 or so) climbs including the famous Molenberg, Oude Kwaremont, Koppenberg, Berendries, Valkenberg, Bosberg. It’s a great but hard day out and the growing popularity of the event now means that almost 20,000 people participate. You would think it might be chaotic and on the climbs it can be a little but all in all the day goes quite well considering the numbers.
The Tour of Flanders for Cyclists is the second event on the Golden Bike calendar, an initiative of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) (International Cyclist Union) to promote bike races worldwide.
The Tour of Flanders (race) is without a doubt one of the biggest sporting events in Belgium. Today we will have the chance to get a sneak preview of the atmosphere at this biking event. Hopefully it’s a nice day! Fingers crossed. Note: Entry is not included in trip price. Cost in 2013 was approximately $30.00.
Don’t forget to pack all the appropriate gear as it will be cold and could be wet. After the event we will gather everyone and head back to Gent for a well deserved shower and maybe some frites and mayo with a Belgian beer to wash it down along the way!
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Sunday, 6th April: Tour of Flanders
I don’t think there is anything quite like seeing a big Classic race live. The crowds are getting bigger every year. All of Flanders comes out to celebrate as if it is their National Day. To me this is the real heart of cycling. If you are a cyclist you have to see this race once in your life.
The Tour of Flanders is a living monument to cycling thanks to its past winners and demanding parcours. Hard men shine through this race typically hit with snow, wind and/or rain…
Men like Rik Van Looy, Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, Tom Boonen and Johan Museeuw.
In 2014 the Ronde will finish in Oudenaarde for the third time after Tom Boonen won the first part of his famous double (Flanders and Paris Roubaix) in 2012 and who can forget how Fabian Cancellara smashed the opposition on his way to the same double in 2013. Oudenaarde with its historic centre, its wonderful Town hall and its unique museum, The Tour of Flanders Centre lies in the centre of this new route. For recreational riders and cycling lovers Oudenaarde exudes a passion for cycling.
The final section of the race contains the traditional ingredients of the Tour of Flanders: leg snapping hills and cobbled roads, all set in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes.
It will include a final section of 75 kilometers built around three loops on the Oude-Kwaremont and Patersberg in combination with the Koppenberg and Kruisberg. This provides a new concept concentrated around four crucial hills in the Flemish Ardennes, all within a stone’s throw of each other. The ultimate final, being ten climbs and two cobbled sections followed by a straight line to the finish in Oudenaarde, will see only the strongest survive to battle out the finish.
Hundreds of thousands of cycling fans make the Tour of Flanders what it is today so the atmosphere on this final circuit will be amazing!
We will first go to the start in Brugge where we have a VIP Breakfast and most importantly a VIP pass into the riders enclosure where we can see the riders signing on and getting ready. Once the race has started we will be on our way to the Oude Kwaremont and our VIP area to see firstly the womens race pass and then the final 3 circuits of the mens race, culminating in the finish at Oudenaarde.
Our VIP area is provided by the organisation of the race and will have all the ingredients for a fantastic Belgian atmosphere: The Ronde live in front of you on the Oude Kwaremont, beer, frites, lots of proud Belgians and a TV!
After seeing the finish we will return to Gent for an evening free in the town. Our hotel is situated in the centre of Gent so the restaurants are only a short walk away.
Brief History of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen
The Ronde is one of the most prestigious of the Spring Classics, or of any cycle race. It’s an endurance race in the true sense. 270 kms with more than a dozen climbs it varies year to year. There are no Alpine or Pyrenean mountains, but most of the climbs are narrow and steep, and several are cobbled. Although they are tough in their own right, they also raise the tempo in between since everybody wants to be in a good position when they start.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Monday, 7th April: Tour of Flanders Museum
Today we will drive to Oudenaarde for a visit of the Tour of Flanders Centre and Museum in Oudenaarde, followed by lunch in the beautiful town square. After lunch we will ride some of the famous cobbled climbs from earlier editions including the much feared and famous Muur van Geraardsbergen, the Kapelmuur and maybe the Bosberg before returning to Oudenaarde for our transfer home.
The Tour of Flanders Centre is located in the historical heart of Oudenaarde near the Market Square. Oudenaarde is the gateway to the Flemish Ardennes, with the slopes and cobbled roads of the Tour of Flanders.
It is much more than an interactive museum. It also consists of an auditorium, an exhibition hall, a conference room, a lobby, a theme cafe and a great shop where they sell good quality clothing including original wool jerseys. The Tour plays an important role in the Flemish social life. Discover the glorious moments of your heroes and feel the emotions of the most beautiful classic in Flanders.
The interactive museum looks for the spirit and the heroes of the Tour. The museum has a multi-media approach with magnificent audiovisuals, projections and computer simulations. Every visitor gets the chance to experience the Tour himself. You can feel the excitement, the suffering and the happiness. You can cycle next to Schotte, Merckx or Museeuw and you can feel the cobbled stones and hills.
Every theme has an installation with text, photographs, films, graphic creations, sounds and objects. Once again, you feel the atmosphere of Flanders’ finest classic. You learn everything about the evolution and the history. The computers show you additional and statistic information.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Tuesday, 8th April: A Truly Belgian Day – Cobbles, Bikes and Beer
This morning we will leave Gent for the day and travel to Brakel, the home town of Eric your guide and the heartland of the Flemish Ardennes. Eric will take us on one of his favourite training rides in the area spiced up with a few climbs before returning to Brakel for a shower and lunch.
After lunch it is off to brouwerij Roman or Brewery Roman for a tour and tasting. The story of the Roman family brewery began back in 1545. The brewery had been located in Mater (on the route of the Tour of Flanders) east of the city of Oudenaarde for more than four centuries.
The village, which is now part of Oudenaarde, as well as the family name, probably find their origin back in the Roman ages. In those days, the brewery was located along a major road connecting Germany to France.
Along this commercial route, there was a big farm called “De Clocke”, in which travelers were able to rest and spend the night, rest their horses and get them stabled or get a fresh horse if necessary.
After our visit we will stumble to the vans and return to Gent where you are free for the evening.
Wednesday, 9th April:Grote Scheldeprijs
This morning we will see the second of the great races in our week at the Classics, the semi classic Grote Scheldeprijs. Being midweek between Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix it is expected that the top riders will come out to contest this, the oldest race in Belgium.
We will go to the start in beautiful Antwerp this morning with hopefully a little time to look around before we head off to see the race on one of the cobbled sections. This will be followed by a ride around the final circuit of the race and lunch before the race passes through the finish in Schoten for the first of 4 times. we will stay in Schoten until the finish and return to the hotel afterwards.
The Grote Scheldeprijs is a Belgian semi classic cycling race which starts in Antwerp and finishes in Schoten. The event is seen as a race for sprinters, held on flat roads over roughly 200 kilometres. The race is one circuit of 155 kilometres into the countryside of Antwerp province followed by three circuits of 15 kilometres based on Schoten. The route includes seven cobbled sections varying between 1300 and 3000 metres.
The race start is along the river Schelde near a famous museum “Het MAS”. Racing begins in Schoten, a few kilometres north east and the finish is outside Schoten town hall.
The first Scheldeprijs was organised by the Antwerp branch of the Belgian cycling federation (BWB) on July 8 1907 making it the oldest cycle race in Flanders. In its early years it started and finished in Antwerp, concluding at the now demolished Zurenborg velodrome.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Thursday, 10th April: Ieper, the Flanders Fields and Kemmelberg
This morning we will head down to our home for the next three nights in Ieper or Ypres as it is also known. No other European city will give you the opportunity to fully experience what the Great War was really like. No other city has such interesting medieval story to tell and no other city has combined its past elements better into a modern place bubbling with enthusiasm for the future. Dive into Ieper’s medieval past in the town centre and pay a visit to the Cloth Hall on one of the most beautiful market squares of Belgium or go for a walk around the 17th Century Vauban ramparts. The very beautiful and grand Main Square is full of life with restaurants and cafes flanked by the museum and town hall on one side.
We will drive to our hotel and depart on our ride from there. We will leave the hotel and head out to ride some of the interesting parts of the course from the famous Gent-Wevelgem race, including the famous Kemmelberg which is about 12km from Ieper. We will return to Ieper for lunch and a shower followed by an afternoon drive ride through the Flanders Fields which were the scene of some of the most fierce battles of World War 1. Included will be a visit to the Tyne Cot Cemetery where there is an interesting display of the battles fought in this area and the resting place of many Australians and British soldiers.
The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by King Albert I of Belgium in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire in the defence and liberation of Belgium during the war. It is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war.
The name “Tyne Cot” is said to come from the Northumberland Fusiliers seeing a resemblance between the German concrete pill boxes, which still stand in the middle of the cemetery, and typical Tyneside workers’ cottages – Tyne Cots.
To complete our day, on our return we will head to an early dinner (provided tonight) in order to be able to see the last post at the Menin Gate.
Every evening (at 8 pm) since 1928, the Last Post has been sounded under the imposing memorial arches of the Menin Gate. The Last Post is the traditional salute to the fallen and is played in honour of the memory of the soldiers of the then British Empire, who fought and died in the ‘Immortal Ypres Salient’ between 1914 and 1918.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Friday, 11th April: Arenberg Forest
All the action today will centre round the famed Arenberg forest, The Wallers Forest and the section near Orchies.
Friday is the traditional day for the teams to do a last reconnaissance of the important parts of the course and we usually see many of the teams out on the pave.
So we will head down to Arenberg and see many of the teams pass through there before heading across to the Roubaix velodrome where we can take our bikes and do a lap or five of the track and then go to the club house for some retail therapy and possibly a beer in the bar.
While we’re here we will collect our entries for the ride tomorrow.
We will enjoy an easy ride around the flat lands of Northern France in preparation for our big ride tomorrow. We won’t be doing any of the pave sections today. We’ll leave that surprise for tomorrow!
In the afternoon we will head off to Brugge for the evening.
First used in 1968 the Trouée d’Arenberg, Tranchée d’Arenberg, (Trench of Arenberg), Trouee de Wallers Arenberg, has become the symbol of Paris–Roubaix. The 2400m of cobbles were laid in the time of Napoleon I and the road was proposed for Paris–Roubaix by former professional Jean Stablinski,who had worked in the mine under the woods of Arenberg. Although almost 100 km from Roubaix, the sector usually proves decisive and as Stablinski said “Paris–Roubaix is not won in Arenberg, but from there the group with the winners is selected.”
Saturday, 12th April:
For the second time this week you will have the opportunity to ride the same route as the pros the day before the race.
Paris-Roubaix Cyclo Sportif gives every cyclist the opportunity to experience the magic of Paris-Roubaix! Just a day before the real Paris-Roubaix, the Paris-Roubaix Challenge is conducted under the same conditions with the same cobblestones and the finish on the Vélodrome… Does it get any better? Trouée d’Arenberg, Carrefour de l’Arbre, Roubaix velodrome.
The Paris-Roubaix Cyclo Sportif offers a ride to the heart of the legendary history of cycling. Regardless of what route you choose, you will finish on the track of the fabled Roubaix Velodrome. There will be refreshments and you can take a shower in the very same place where the winners of the pro race (from Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault to Tom Boonen) wrote some of the most beautiful chapters in their careers.
We will have an early breakfast and head down to Roubaix around 7.00am to the start and all going well we will be on the bike by 8.00am. You can start any time you like before 10.00am and sometimes it’s good to start a bit later to avoid the rush at the start.
This concept is unique and an exceptional challenge. It won’t be easy but if you take it steadily and stay safe you’ll see the velodrome soon enough. Note: Entry is not included in trip price. Cost in 2013 was approximately $30.00.
Sunday, 13th April: Paris Roubaix
This morning we will head off to Paris Roubaix, the Hell of the North or l’enfer du nord as the French say.
There is no other race in the world like the Paris-Roubaix. The French race is known for its torturous pavé sectors and the many stories of pain and destruction that they hold.
Our own Stuart O’Grady has won this icon and dreams of riders like George Hincapie and Johan Museeuw have ended in tears along the roadside, but the risks make the victory in velodrome that much sweeter. After 260 kilometres and around 50 of pavé, the race ends with one and a half laps on Roubaix’s outdoor track.
Win in Roubaix, the third of cycling’s five Monuments, and you are considered a god. Riders like Roger De Vlaeminck, Fausto Coppi, Rik Van Looy, Eddy Merckx, Francesco Moser, Sean Kelly and Tom Boonen have tamed Paris-Roubaix’s pavé for the well-earned status.
We start early from our hotel and go to the start in Compiegne. The start of Paris Roubaix is special. You can feel the energy in the air. We will see the riders presented for the sign on and meet back at the vehicles as soon as they have gone. Through the afternoon we will visit several sections of pavé along the route where we’ll see up close the difficult conditions that take their toll on the riders as the day wears on.
Then our chase begins and goes something like this:
10h50 : Start of the Race.
After the start we will drive to the cobble stone area at Inchy where will see the race pass over a long and difficult section of pavé (cobble stones), as well as enjoy our picnic lunch.
13h25 : First cobble stone area at Inchy, Length of pavé : 1800 m
14h00 : Saint Python (feed zone), Length of pavé : 1500 m
14h40 : Haveluy, Length of pavé : 2500 m
15h45 : Orchies, Length of pavé : 1700 m From Orchies will then head to the Roubaix velodrome to await the arrival of the 2014 winner.
17h30 : Velodrome 18h30 : Finish area to see riders After we have visited the finish area your day at Paris-Roubaix comes to an end.
In between the different stops we will follow the race on TV in our vehicles and we will provide a picnic lunch with drinks and snacks during the day.
After the race we will continue to our hotel in near Zaventem in preparation for our departure tomorrow. Tonight we’ll have a farewell dinner where it all began 10 days ago!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Monday, 14th April: A Bientot
Trip ends and we head our separate ways but we hope to see you again soon.
We will have a bus available to shuttle people to the airport during the day.
- All Transport.
- Services of experienced Tour Guides, including former Belgian pro cyclist, Eric de Clercq.
- Return transfers from Zaventem Airport on the 4th April and 14th April.
- Accommodation in a 3 star apartment (Gent), a quality 3 star Hotel (Ieper) and 4 star hotel in Zaventem.
- Buffet breakfast daily.
- 3 course evening meals on 4 nights.
- Lunch on 4 days.
- VIP access to Tour of Flanders riders enclosure.
- VIP access to Oude Kwaremont VIP Marquis with full catering, TV and great viewing.
- Mechanical assistance with your bike.
- Sightseeing as listed.
- Maps and Bikestyle Tours Itinerary.
- Bikestyle Tours Cycling Jersey.
- Entry to Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix Cyclosportif events.
BOOKING FORM FOR 2014 SPRING CLASSICS
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