Belgium: Spring Classics

Belgium: Ardennes Spring Classics Cycling Tour
12 days, 11 nights:  April 17 – 28, 2014 (**)
(8 day option also available – see end of page)

Includes all hotel accommodation, hearty breakfasts, professional ride support, coaching, all transfers to hotels and race viewing locations, VIP entry for for Amstel Gold, entry into Fleche Wallonne sportive, entry into Liege Bastogne Liege Challenge, scooter tour, brewery visit and pre tour area, race and language guides.

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$3,695 ($600 single supplement)

*8 day option: $2695 (single supplement $370)

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OVERVIEW OF THE TOUR

When it comes to bicycle racing, the one-day classics pack the most punch. Pro racers line up with one mission—to be the last man standing when it comes to the finish. Race fans come out in droves to spur these gladiators on as they make their way across the countryside in formidable environmental conditions. Specifically, the Ardennes classics are notable for their action packed, short, steep climbs, relentless attacking and courses lined with bicycle racing fanatics.

Amstel Gold, held in the Limburg region of the Netherlands delivers a milieu of successive steep, narrow climbs (31 in all). Dutch fans line the endless string of bergs and jam outdoor beer gardens to cheer as the pros thunder across narrow roads. The course ends atop the Cauberg climb, the place to be if you are in the party mood. This course favors climbers, hilly course specialists, and hard-men of the similar variety.

La Flèche Wallonne, a 199.5 km mid-week event starts in Charleroi and heads East to Huy. Here the riders tackle a circuit, which includes the steep Mur de Huy (The Wall of Huy) climb. The Mur boasts several sections steeper than 15%, making the finish at the top after three laps a battle for the strong and the cunning.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège, one of the oldest one-day races in Europe, first took place in 1894. The second half contains most of the infamous climbs, such as the Haute-Levée, La Redoute, and Saint-Nicolas. The successive hills provide ample opportunity for riders in the hunt to attack, always ending in an exciting and tactical finish.

The day before each of these pro races you will get the ‘pro experience’ yourself, riding each of the race courses as part of an organized ‘cyclosportive‘ along with thousands of other avid cyclists.  This is where you really get to appreciate just how tough the pros are, doing this day after day at twice our speed!

This is one of our favorite tours, with spectacular cycling and a chance to experience the passion of Belgian cycle racing.  Even those who don’t usually follow racing can’t help but get swept away in the excitement of the race and the fever of the crowds.  In addition to this, there is a fun balance of local culture, Belgian waffles and beer, and relaxation time to explore the local areas, towns and cities.

AIRPORT ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE CITY
Brussels International Airport / City of Brussels

AVERAGE DAILY MILEAGE AND TERRAIN
We’ll ride and train an average of 40-80 miles daily, over a mixed terrain of rolling hills, cycles paths and steeper climbs. The routes are designed that you can do a shorter option or a longer option, and include areas where optional structured training can be employed. Professional coaching is included everyday. For those that want more, this cycling friendly region offers numerous roads to tackle after the day’s set route in addition to cycling challenges and sportives of up to 200km!

WEATHER
More information about the weather here. However, in summary we have had more sunny days that not on average, but there is a chance of some cooler, wetter weather.

EXAMPLE ITINERARY*

*Full confirmed itinerary to be provided upon registration.

Day 1, Thursday, April 17
Arrive and pickup at Brussels Airport. Check-in at hotel in Tongeren, Flanders, Belgium. Explore Tongeren via bike or on foot.

Day 2, Friday, April 18
Light warm-up and shakedown ride in the eastern Flanders and Maastricht regions. A mixture of tough climbs and small roads make this serenely, beautiful area special for cyclists. The Netherlands is known for its flat country, where cyclists have all the rights to the road with astonishing displays of driver courtesy. This part of the “Low Countries” does not live up to its namesake, as it has numerous hills—Maasberg, Adsteeg, Camerig, Gulperberg, Keutenberg and Cauberg to name a few.  Finish the day with a visit to a local brewery for drinks and ample portions of bread and cheese.

Day 3, Saturday, April 19
Join thousands of local riders as they tackle the Amstel Gold Tour Version and ride all or parts of the Amstel Gold course (various distance options from 60km – 250km)

Day 4, Sunday, April 20
Ride to and/or van transfer to watch the AMSTEL GOLD RACE. See the race unfold live from our carefully chosen viewing location, watching the race come through multiple times, then slipping into the local bar between passings to continue to watch the gladiators battle it out on the course. For the finale, enjoy the local ambience as the fans pack into the bar to scream for their favorites.

Day 5, Monday, April 21
Transfer to the Wallonne region via van or bicycle with a stunning ride from the Limburg region, down to the French speaking area of Belgium.  You’ll ride the Fietsroutes and part of the Flèche Wallonne and Liege Bastogne Liege race courses as you pass from the rolling hills of Limburg to the forests of the Southern Ardennes.  Keep an eye out for pros who are reconnoitering the race courses! On-the-road coaching will include cornering, descending, climbing and training & racing nutrition (all specific training is optional).

Day 6, Tuesday, April 22
We’ll participate in a local cycling club sportive, which tackles most of the La Flèche Wallonne race course, including the infamous Mur de Huy.  A real ‘Belgian’ cycling experience as you ride with the locals and join them at the finish for a beer and lasagne.

Day 7, Wednesday, April 23
Ride to and/or van transfer to watch the women’s and men’s professional LA FLÈCHE WALLONNE. See the Pros tackle the Mur de Huy three times, while enjoying the festival atmosphere at the top of the climb.

Day 8, Thursday, April 24
A stunning ride through the Ardennes region visiting some very special locations and ‘off the beaten track’ roads.  You’ll be blown away by the beauty of the region and the quality of cycling around here. The day finishes with a visit to La Chouffe Brewery (and an optional ride home in the support van!).  Optional on-the-road clinics include VO2 Max intervals, on-the-bike strength intervals, and bike handling skills.

Day 9 , Friday, April 25
Ride to or van transfer to Liège to enjoy this lovely city, which sits between two worlds: Flemish and Waloon. Once in Liège you have time to explore the city.  Our hotel is carefully selected for close proximity to the race start and a popular hotel for the pro teams.  In 2011 we shared rooms, elevators and breakfast with the winning Astana team!

Days 10, Saturday, April 26
An epic day on the bike.  You get an official entry into the Liège-Bastogne-Liège Challenge where you can choose to ride 80km – 270km of the LBL race course including the infamous Côte de la Redoute, Côte de la Roche aux Falcons and Côte de Saint-Nicolas.  Riding this you get a real feel for just how tough the racers have to be to survive the relentless pace of the peleton and counter the attacks on the climbs.

Day 11, Sunday, April 27
See the Grand Départ of  the LIÈGE-BASTOGNE-LIÈGE race, which leaves from the square just 5 minutes walk from our hotel.  We’ll then head over to one of the first decisive climbs of the race and get within inches of the racers as they battle for position. Stand back as the team cars come whipping through the tight knit crowd! After the final weary domestiques have passed, we make our way down the cobbled roads into the nearby town and join the locals in the bar to watch the final km and toast the winner with one of the many brews of the region.

Day 12, Monday, April 28
Depart and drop-off at Brussels Airport.

ABOUT THE AREAS WE VISIT

The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and old mountains. The forests are known to have abundant population of wild game. The region, known for its scenic beauty and wide range of outdoor activities, including hunting, cycling, walking and canoeing, make it a popular tourist destination.

Limburg has a highly distinct character. The south of the province is remarkable when compared to the rest of the country, as it is one of the few hill regions of the Netherlands. The highest point in the Netherlands, the Valkenberg, is situated at the Dutch-Belgian-German border.

VIDEOS AND PICTURE GALLERY

See our videos from the last two years here: 2011 and 2012

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE TOUR

  • Lodging in carefully selected 3*- 4* hotels
  • Substantial breakfasts every day (dinners are paid out-of-pocket for your own flexibility, but reasonably priced locations will be chosen.  Breakfasts are substantial in Belgium – they’ll set you up for the whole day!)
  • VIP entry into Amstel Gold Tour
  • Entry into Fleche Wallonne Sportive
  • Entry into Liege Bastogne Liege Challenge, including Rapha T-shirt, medal, certificate and post ride massage
  • Professional coaching, on-the-road clinics, and ancillary written or electronic training material.
  • Pre tour: you get a copy of the CCSD guide to the areas, CCSD language guide and CCSD race guide
  • Experienced ride readers and coaches on the road with you
  • Daily GPS files
  • Full van support on most days
  • Snacks, drinks and all sports nutrition on the ride each day.
  • Light mechanical support during the tour
  • Transportation and luggage transfers during the tour.

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

  • Airfare.
  • Lunches are on your own, so you have maximum flexibility in your day (however we usually stock the support van with lots of delicious treats and remember those breakfasts are very substantial!).
  • Dinners. We’ll choose reasonably priced locations for those interested in a group dinner.
  • Bikes (bike rental can be easily arranged though – please contact us for details)
  • Personal incidentals, telephone, hotel minibar charges, etc.
  • Travel insurance (we highly recommend taking out a travel insurance package – please contact us for details)

NON CYCLING PARTNERS

This trip is based around the three Ardennes Classics races, however if you have a partner who doesn’t share your passion for cycling but would like to experience Belgium please contact us and we can arrange many other activities for them.  The towns and cities we stay in have a multitude of other non cycling activities and we are happy to act as concierge and set up a non cycling activity schedule for a partner:  spa days, yoga, hiking, fishing, shopping, museums, brewery tours, art galleries – there is no shortage of ways to entertain someone who doesn’t eat, sleep and breathe cycling.

For more information, contact jo@ccsd.com

8 DAY OPTION

8 DAY OPTION – ‘Flèche Wallonne and Liège Bastogne Liège’
Monday, April 21 – Monday, April 28
$2,695 (single supplement: $370)

REGISTRATION

Places are limited on this trip to ensure clients experience the best service and individual attention.

REGISTER FOR THIS TOUR

 

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