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Australian Professional Cyclist

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Climbs and Cobbles

The women’s Tour of Flanders has been held every spring since 2004 on the same day as the men’s race. It’s a part of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup series. This year the women’s Tour of Flanders is the 3rdround of the World Cup series, the first two rounds were held in Holland and Italy. The Flanders World Cup starts and finishes in Oudenaarde, Flanders, Belgium.

The 2012 women’s race is 127kms, covering approximately 70kms of the same roads as the men’s race. The women will ascend nine categorized climbs, seven of which the men will also do.

There are two tough flat sections of cobbles at 39kms (2200m) and 63kms (2000m) but the real test at the business end of the race will be the two cobbled climbs; the Oude Kwaremont (at 101kms) and the Paterberg (at 104kms).

It’s common that most professionals do a reconnaissance ride on the course, or part of it midweek before a big race like Flanders.

Climbing the Rekelberg 1

Today is Wednesday and I’ve ridden the entire 127kms of the women’s Flanders course – with a little assistance from the car on the very few flat sections for some leg speed.

I can honestly say that I believe this year’s edition of the Women’s Tour of Flanders is the toughest yet.

There are many hills in between the categorized climbs and very little recovery, even for those who are not chasing between the main climbs. The entire race is extremely technical, there’s turn after turn without any long flat sections of road where the race could regroup. Lead riders will quickly be out of sight over the climbs and around the corners, which often means that the gaps will be more difficult to close.

In general, I found the climbs to be slightly longer than in the past and I think that this will rule out any possibility of a ‘pure’ sprinter making it to the finish with the leaders – it may even be too tough for your usual power climbers.

What can I say about the cobbled sections? Cobbles are cobbles… wet cobbles are wet cobbles. This year the women’s Tour of Flanders only covers approximately 7kms total of cobbled roads; two flat sections and two cobbled climbs. The cobbled sections are certainly tough but it’s definitely the up and down that’s going to split the race into many small groups.

Whilst I’m in an overload/building training phase I don’t expect I’ll be arriving at the finish of this grueling course with the leaders this year, I’ll put my money on Marianne Vos. It might sound like a safe bet but given the characteristics of this course, I’d say it’s tailor made for Vos… even if she experiences the misfortune of a few punctures (touch wood) I’d feel safe with my bet for this year’s Tour of Flanders.

Hurting on the Berendries 2

More Photos Below….











Catch me if you can on the Valkenberg 3












Taking the softer option on Haaghoek Cobbles












Chasing the CR-V over the Kaperij 4












Passing a tourist on the Kanarieberg 5












Waiting on the Kruisberg 6












The Kwaremont Cobbled Climb 7












Pushing it on the Paterberg 8












Climbing the Hoogberg 9












Happy Gilmore

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