Cobbles and Climbs of theTour of Flanders
Updated: Jun 12, 2020
The legendary Koppenberg has been chilling spines on the ‘Ronde van Vlaanderen’ since 1976 . With gradients reaching a fear inducing 22%, on its cobbled slopes, it is certainly a force to be reckoned with, but this monster of the Ardennes is not the only feature worthy of note on this incredible Cobbled Classic, that has well and truly earned its place as one of the world famous Monuments of Cycling.
Sports Tours International are once again proud to be able to offer a variety of packages for tours to the Tour of Flanders including Ride and Watch packages and exclusive VIP/ Hospitality experiences. As well as this, we are also offering various bespoke packages (Sportive/Ride and Watch/ VIP & Hospitality) for many of the other Spring and Cobbled Classics Events in and around Belgium!
However, to wet your appetite, and get you in the mood for some high class cobbled climbing, here's a rundown of some of the best climbs in the history of this legendary classic.
This narrow road, with the poor state of it's cobblestones, is a well known bottleneck on the Tour of Flanders. At just 474m, this is a relatively short climb, however with sections as steep as 14%, position is everything at this well known attacking point. Two time winner of the race Peter Van Petegem, said of this section;
“If you’re not in the first 10 to take the Molenberg, it will take you at least half an hour to get back in front.”
This key strategic factor, and the severity of this section, ensure that, whenever it features, the Molenberg is an indisputable spectacle of the race.
Location: Zwalm Length: 474m Average %: 7% Max %: 14.2%
Located in the heart of one of the most beautiful natural hotspots in the Flemish Ardennes, De Koppenberg is one of the most mythical hills and enduring legends of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. With a jaw- dropping maximum gradient of 22%, this climb has a reputation for a proportion of those who attempt it every year dismounting to make the steep cobbled climb on foot.
The image of Fabian Cancellara running up the hill in 2009,his chain draped round his neck after it had broken, is still clear in the memories of many avid cycling fans.
There is no real run up for cyclists into the Koppenberg. A 90-degree corner in Melden brings riders to the bottom of the climb at 12% and the incline rapidly rises to 20 per cent in just 200 metres.
Location: Oudenaarde Length: 700m Average %: 9.4% Max %: 22%
This climb is all about the gutter, the thin strip of concrete that runs down the side of the road might carry a high risk for picking up punctures, but as the gradient hikes up over 14% the smooth surface of the gutter certainly makes for a faster, smoother experience than taking on the pavé.
This hill has now come to be nicknamed The Boonenberg, because this is where Tom Boonen traditionally made his first attack every year.
The name of this testing climb literally translates to mean 'TOUGH HILL'.
Location: Etikhove Length: 890m Average %: 6.1% Max %: 16%
De OUDE KWAREMONT:
The Oude Kwaremont is the longest cobbled climb on the Tour of Flanders at 2200 meters long. Although not the toughest of climbs, with an average gradient of just 4% and the steepest slopes just short of 12%, it is still difficult to recover after such a long stretch on the pavé.
Close to the end of the race, this gruelling hill has taken on more and more significance in recent years.
The first 500m f the cobbled part of this road are also the toughest as this is the steepest and narrowest part of the climb and the road surface here is uneven with poor quality cobbles.
Location: Kwaremont Length: 2200m Average %: 4% Max %: 11.6%
The cobbles on the Paterberg have been a protected monument of Belgium since 1993. This short, steep, cobbled climb, has pumped ice into the veins of cyclists since 2011, and with an average gradient of 13%, and steepest sections over 20%, now has a reputation as somewhat of a killer on the Tour of Flanders.
The slopes of de Paterberg were unpaved until 1986, when a local farmer paved the road with cobbles, because he wanted the Tour of Flanders to pass his house.
This slope first featured on the Tour of Flanders in 1986, and in 2014, here where Fabian Cancellara outrode Peter Sagan to ultimately take victory in the race.
Location: Kluisbergen Length: 360m Average %: 12.9% Max %: 20.3%
For Full Details on the Routes and Climbs (Including Maps) See HERE