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Riding hundreds of km over cobbles is not everyones idea of fun, but for those who like to suffer when they ride, following the peloton along one of the cobbled classic routes is an epic experience and one that many thousands of cyclists have embarked upon for many decades now.

Here’s a brief summery of each of the 4 classics and how you too can conquer them:

E3 Harelbeke

The youngest of the cobbled classics, first raced in 1958 – Whoever wins this is often an indicator of who will win Flanders & Roubaix – Cancellara won E3 three times going on to win both Flanders & Roubaix twice the same year and being on the podium for both the other year. Boonen won 3 in 2005 & 2012 & won E3 & Flanders in 2006 (podium at Roubaix) he holds the record for most wins – 5.

Famous cobbled climbs- Eikenberg (Omloop, Dwars, 3 Days de Panne), Taainberg (RVV, Omloop, 3 days de Panne, Dwars), Paterberg(RVV & Dwars), Oude Kwaremont (RVV)

How to Conquer- Because it’s on a weekday and it’s very similar to Ronde Van Vlaanderen there isn’t an E3 Harelbeke cyclo sportive for amateurs and we can’t find any tour operators who offer trips around this specific race so you’d have arrange everything yourself. It’s quite a complicated route so you’d really have to have a race map to hand. On the plus side, the start and finish are right next to each other and there are hotels to suit every budget in this area.

Gent – Wevelgem

Better for sprinters since the last kms are flatter than other Belgian classics. Crosses the border into France towards the coast so often rainy and very windy. The least ‘cobbled’ of the cobbled classics, only 2 sections of pavé.

Featured cobbled climbs- Kemmelberg & Kasselberg

How to Conquer- There’s a Cyclo Sportive the day before the pro race meaning you can ride it yourself and then watch the pro peloton tackle it the next day. The sportive caters for every level offering 4 distances: 60km, 85km, 135km and 220km. There is a difference between the pro version of the route and the sportive route- the start and finish of the latter is in the same place (to make it easier logistically). The entry fee is very cheap from €8-10 meaning that you can splash out on one of the many very nice hotels in the Wevelgem area.

Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders)

2016 is the 100th edition of the race. One of the 5 ‘Monuments’ and attracts 600-800,000 spectators on the course. Features lots of short steep cobbled climbs, up to 22%! Boonen & Cancellara are both members of the ‘3 victories club’ – if either of them win this year they will go into the history books as the most successful RVV rider ever.

Famous cobbled climbs – Molenberg, Koppenberg, Taaienberg, Oude Kwaremont & Paterberg.

How to Conquer- Like Gent – Wevelgem, there is an amateur sportive the day before. Brugge to Oudenaarde (227km) is the exact route the pros will do the following day. However, the routes of 129km and 71km also offer the opportunity to get to know those iconic climbs and cobblestones and are looped meaning the start and finish are in the same place- the longer route would mean a 1-2 hour journey to the start or back to the finish depending on where you stay. If doing the longer route, we’d recommend staying in Bruges as it’s a beautiful city with lots of other things to do and a greater choice of accommodation.

One of our travel partners Trek Travel offer a fantastic package for the Tour of Flanders- learn more.

Paris Roubaix (l’Enfer du Nord, La Reine)

The oldest of the cobbled classics & the only one in France– first raced 1896. Tom Boonen & Roger De Vlaminck are the only riders to have won it 4 times. Cancellara has 3 wins. This race doesn’t have the ‘climbs’ of the other cobbled classics but the pavé is much much rougher and usually in longer sections.

Famous cobbled sections – Arenberg & Carrefour.

How to Conquer- There are numerous tour operators that offer Paris-Roubaix packages including Scicon travel partner La Fuga who offer a great package which includes everything from accommodation to mechanical assistance during the race- learn more.

If you wanted to do it yourself, there is the choice between the Paris-Roubaix Challenge which is the day before the pro race or there is also the VC Paris-Roubaix Sportive in June.

 

#BringYourBike with Scicon

If you sign up for one or more of the Cobbled Classics and want to ride your own bike then make sure you pack it into a Scicon bike bag or bike box. Click the shop now button at the top of the page and check out our wide range of bike protection including our two bestsellers- the AeroComfort 2.0 TSA bike bag & the AeroTech Evolution TSA bike box.

 

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Scicon Hollie

Big fan of skiing, slush puppies, pandas, cheesecake and cosy slippers. Social Media & PR contact @sciconbags.
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