What do you think is meant with “Flanders’ most beautiful”?
- a beauty contest to choose Miss Flanders
- a contest in the international Ghent Flower show
- a bicycle race
If you chose option 3 you are on your way of becoming a real Fleming. Every year, for more than 100 years already, a race is held under the name Tour of Flanders and every year about a million fans cheer their idols as they ride their race. This year it will be the first time that Antwerp hosts the start of this big event, and Antwerp is preparing itself for a great party. In 2015 Antwerp hosted the start of a stage in the Tour de France and 200,000 fans came to the city to greet their heroes. Even more people are expected this year on the 2nd of April.
The name Tour of Flanders is of course inspired on the Tour de France, but as Flanders is too small for a race in 20 stages, the race consists of just one stage, a good 200 km long, interspersed with nasty cobble stone passages, and near the end of the race some pretty steep climbs. These climbs cannot be compared to the Tourmalet or Mont Ventoux, but the climbs follow one another incessantly and each time it is a fight to be in front position at the start of the climb, so it may be clear that only a really strong rider can win this race.
The presentation of the participants and the preliminary start will be given at Steenplein, then the riders follow the quays until Brouwersvliet, where they turn right and then ride through the tunnel to the left bank, rather quietly at a modest speed, so that the people along the street can easily recognise the riders, but as soon as they reach the village of Burcht hell will break lose and after that the speed will never go under 40 km per hour anymore until they reach Oudenaarde for the finish.