Frank Jansen & Herman Nekkers
Did you also enjoy the pro race Liège-Bastogne-Liège? Normally one of the most boring classics of the spring, this year it was a great spectacle. There's no better inspiration to go riding in the Ardennes again. And especially since we have been allowed to travel to Belgium again since last week. Herman Nekkers is not only one of the initiators of CycloWorld, he is also known as an expert on the Ardennes. We asked him about his Top 10 events in this region. Fasten your seatbelts, here we go....!
Although this sportive starts in Maastricht, it is a true Ardennes classic. Some time ago this was a gran fondo under the name Steven Rooks Classic. It is a very popular ride with two distances: 110 and 160 km. Expect sore legs, as there are surprises every year.
Very cool ride in the south of the Ardennes, near the French border. This used to be a gran fondo, but now just a wonderful sportive. For only €7.50 you get well-signposted route, good supplies and a fantastic environment. There are five distances, the longest being 185 kilometers and 3300 meters of climbing.
If you love beer and cycling then La Chouffe Classic is an absolute must. Get ready for a true spectacle. This ride features no less than 4 hills in our Monsters of Wallonia. Start and finish are in Houffalize. Along the way you can sip a La Chouffe beer at brasserie d'Achouffe. But keep it down, as the closing final climb is the infamous Côte Saint-Roch.
Surprisingly beautiful ride with start and finish at Baraque de Fraiture. This is one of the highest points in Belgium so you'll have to climb to the finish. The course changes every year, but you can always count on some familiar names. This high-quality event costs only 10 euros. And there's a nice Belgian amotsphere at the finish.
Small-scale gran fondo in Étalle, near Luxembourg. This event deserves more attention and participants. The longest route is 167 kilometers and 2400m, divided into 19 slopes. There is also a short distance of 125 kilometers. Very nice GF close to home, it's something different.
Who is looking for an event with "unknown" Ardennes killers will soon end up at The Alternative. Make no mistake, each year the course builders select four routes with various hidden gems from the Monsters of Wallonia. The start is in Soumagne, just across the Dutch-Belgian border. Sore legs guaranteed.
The most famous Ardennes slopes in one course: La Redoute, Côte de Roche aux Faucons and the Wall of Huy. Plus a whole bunch of other hills. Philippe will also be making an appearance. You can follow in his tracks if you can keep up!
The official route of La Doyenne one day before the pros. Super-popular tour with 6000-7000 participants each year. Perfect feed stations and sinage. Nice atmosphere along the way with cycling fans already waiting for the pros. Different distances, of which the longest is a true battle of attrition: 260 kilometers and 4500 meters of climbing. Alternative: Tilff-Bastogne-Tilff on May 23rd. This event takes place this year with special COVID measures.
Massive ride, for decades it's an absolute classic in the Ardennes. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with the professional race Waalse Pijl. This sportive has four distances, all ending with the famous triptych Stockeu, Wanneranval, Thier de Coo. Followed by the Haute Levée and Rosier.
We're not called CycloWorld for nothing so a cyclo (of gran fondo in English) comes in at 1. Quite rightly so, because it is a beautiful ride around La Roche en Ardenne. Most participants compete for a good time. Because there is a lot of group riding, you get a real racing feeling. The course is an alternation of steep hills and longer ones, it is rarely flat. The last long descent is just awesome.
Many events mentioned in this article are unfortunately cancelled or postponed due to the corona virus. Not to worry. We have put all the routes in a collection on Komoot so you can still ride them, on your own.