hArdennes 2019 Recon Stage 1

The hArdennes Week began ten years ago, originally conceived as a training camp for those has who had signed up for a Cent Cols Challenge. Back in 2009, 80% of CCC riders were from the UK. Therefore it was simple for many to come across to Belgium for a solid block of hilly riding.

Ten years later, riders are coming from USA, Brazil, Norway, Denmark, Germany, as well as UK and even more & more Belgians each year. Despite it not being uncommon to have a snowfall or two in late April in this region, we have always been blessed by weather so good that many have said “Why do I go to Mallorca? This is so much better!” ( Which probably means that it WILL snow this year!)

Over eight postcards in this series I will present each of the stage recon’s that Walter Beckers & I will do. I try to change the routes around a little from year to year, but the basic structure of the week remains the same, built around the races of Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallone, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Ride #1 : 175kms / 3,500m. " The Ride of Sparkling Waters"

Belgium is of course better known for it’s beers, but it also has some top bubbly stuff, much better for cyclists! This route has been designed as an intro to the area and built around springs where the naturally sparkling water has been bottled fur years : Bru, Chaudfontaine, and Spa.

We have a relatively ‘rolling’ start from our hotel which takes us past the source of BRU. Then comes a sharp duet of “Cotes” so typical of the Ardennes : Niaster and La Redoute. The former is often used in the Tour de Wallonie, the latter the most famous of the LBL ‘Finale climbs’.

More rolling until we swoop down a 19% drop into Chaudfontaine, past the bottle place and up a lovely wooded climb with a superb view of ugly Liege at the top! Short, and less short, hills keep coming at us until we finally get to Tancremont for our lunch stop :

The best rice tart in the region & a nice cuppa coffee.

Roll across to Spa, the most famous of the Belgian waters, and then one of the nicest LBL climbs (The Col du Rosier)

Which will just leave some more glorious ups & downs to complete what Walt & I both agreed is quite a “gentle” intro to this wonderland, by our standards anyway…

We hope your training is going well : the tough Vikings and Canadians are stopping before NOTHING, even dipping into HELL :-

And we are quite tough here in Belgium too :-

Next stage : over to Amstel Gold & back…..