The Fabian Cancellara Classic from Herelbeke adds to a fantastic weekend of cyclos being run the day after the Gent-Wevelgem Cyclo. It’s one of Continental Cycling Heroes Tour. Following the E3 Harelbeke route, the Fabian Cancellara Classic includes fast transition sections, cobbled climbs and fabulous rolling terrain.
Starting the Fabian Cancellara Classic
Riding out from Kortrijk, we got to the start a little late but when we arrived registration was simple and before long we were on our way. With an extra gel tucked into our pocket along with a very important voucher for a free Kwaremont beer our motivation after a hard day yesterday was high. The strong winds of the previous day had abated, the sun shone and the road ahead beckoned.
The Fabian Cancellara Classic promise
We chose the longest route – 148 kms with 1,633 m of climbing punctuated by 12 climbs including the Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont but there were some other surprises in store along the way!
The route weaves its way back and forth within a relatively small geographical area. The climbs come in batches and are connected by very gently rolling terrain until the last climb has been dealt with and that topography become flat in the final approach to Harelbeke and the finish. All the while the scenery is in complete contrast to Gent-Wevelgem but maybe that was due to the absence of the 70 km/hr winds and the glorious sunshine painting a very different picture!
Twelve recognised climbs but there are another two worthy of being recognised. Edelareberg (33.5 kms), La Houpe (54.1 kms), Taaienberg (70.9 kms), Boigneberg (78.3 kms), Eikenberg (82.8 kms), Stationsberg (87.8 kms), Kapelberg (95.1 kms), Paterberg (99.4 kms), Oude Kwaremont (102 kms), Karnemelkbeekstraat (110 kms), Kluisberg (118 kms), Tiegnemberg (132 kms).
Most of the climbs come after the mid-way feed station located at 75 kms and some have cobbled sections. I guess there are three of real note that will test your skill at climbing on cobbles and each has their own special character that makes them unique.
Stationsberg at 87.8 kms is less than a 1 km with a gradual and unusually consistent gradient of about 4%. Nothing particularly challenging until you factor in the poor condition of the cobbles, many of which are stood on their corners providing a very difficult surface to ride and maintain momentum which is essential for cobbles.
The iconic Paterberg at 99.4 kms is also just a few hundred metres averaging about 12% but it has a sting in the final with a gradient of 20+%! As you round the corner at the bottom of the climb the Paterberg appears as a wall of cobbles in the distance. Choices are to wrestle the cobbles or master riding the concrete drains either side. The cobbles are rough, some with substantial gaps between but a little voice in my head said ‘stay on the cobbles’ – not sure why!
Oude Kwaremont at 102 kms is a longer climb at 2.7 kms averaging 4%. It begins as a tarmac road and as the gradient becomes a little steeper the cobbles begin and continue through the village of Kwaremont to the final T-junction. If you’ve had a enough of cobbles by this time there is space either side to ride the verge in many places. However, when we rode the Kwaremont on our carbon bikes we did pass a lady in her Sunday=best having just been to Church riding her old Raleigh with full mudguards up the Kwaremont – a humbling experience. I was left with the thought that she rode the Kwaremont every week and possibly every day!
With the bulk of the climbing finished there were just three climbs to complete before we left the rolling terrain and found ourselves heading for Harelbeke and the finish.
Greeted by Kwaremont beer, wine and frites we settled down to watch the final 30 kms of the Gent-Wevelgem pro race on the big screen. The sun had stayed with us all day and we basked in the completion of a fabulous cyclo and a great double-header weekend.
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