A picturesque village, rolling fields, long forest passages with a few technical masterpieces and countless altitude meters to gain throughout it all. Plus, you’ll be treated to the world’s most famous cobblestones: Stage 1 of the Mountain Bike of Flanders gives to you a sampling of the most important ingredients of our three-day stage race. It’ll definitely serve as a nice warm-up for the marathon stages that follow in the weekend.
Our innovation from last year, which earned “thumbs up” overall, returns for this year’s edition: a short 35-kilometer stage, containing three timed sections we refer to as “specials”. You ride the rest of the stage at your own pace. But make sure to keep your legs warm for what’s still to come. The scenery, though, is completely different from last year: this time around we keep you riding along the edges of the Hotondberg and Kluisberg. Stunning panoramas guaranteed!
You’ll begin the stage in the shadow of the Hotondmolen, on a starting podium that will surely encourage you to go full gas from the beginning. But do fight this urge because the first “special” only comes after 5 kilometers of riding. This way you are also sure to appreciate these opening kilometers where we take you through some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the Flemish Ardennes. On the flanks of the Kwaremont, perhaps the most picturesque village in the entire region, awaits the short and therefore explosive first “special” – about three kilometers in length.
Use the connecting section that follows for optimal recovery, since “special” 2 comes quickly and is sure to be particularly spirited. We head for the Kluisbos area, where we treat you with some of our traditional passages. But this time around we run it in a different direction and sequence, as well as throw in some yet unexplored paths, to keep you on your toes. Be sure to smartly dose your energy since the biggest challenge is still to come after these 5+ kilometers of tough riding from the start.
You are also obliged to fully complete the non-timed sections. But you can ride these sections at your own pace. Feel free to even stop for a photo at the Oude Kwaremont, in the Ronde van Vlaanderenstraat (where all the former winners of “Flanders’ most beautiful race” have their names etched in concrete) or at one of the other phenomenal views of the region.
What we’re trying again to hint at here is that it’s key to smartly dose your energy use, because the last “special” is waiting for you at the end: the Hotond Arena is the backdrop for a short but powerful finale that’s surely worth the wait! In the famous giant concave terrain behind the Hotond Sporthotel – the backdrop of the yearly GP Mario De Clercq cyclocross – we created a section of course where your supporters can continuously follow you. So be prepared to do your best not to cramp up on one of the steep bits!
PROFILE STAGE 1