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26-04-2022 | Frank Jansen & Herman Nekkers

BREAKING: Velomédiane will partially continue as a sportive

The Velomédiane Claudy Criquielion will no longer be a gran fondo. The most famous gran fondo of the Benelux will largely become a sportive. But not quite. How it works is complicated, we try to explain it as simple as possible.

The situation

A 2019 legal decree dictates that cycling races in Belgium can only be held over a fully car-free course. Until this moment, the decree was not imposed at the Criq, but the authorities are now changing that, mainly for safety reasons. The Velomédiane never had a closed course. It proved impossible for the organization to achieve this for the 2022 edition. Even after that it will not be possible, because it is not feasible to get more than 200 officials together. Moreover, for the authorities it is impossible and unthinkable to close the traffic in August in a tourist region like the Ardennes.

So the organizers started looking for an alternative program. Here's what it looks like:

The curtain falls on the original gran fondo. The old courses will now become a sportive (173, 133 and 93 km), without mass start and classification but with (for the longest two distances) time registration. The time will appear on your diploma. An alphabetical results list will be published on the site.

Velomediane Le Défi

Next, a separate new event sees the light of day: the Velomediane Le Défi. This is a race / gran fondo of 69 km and 1250+ over closed course, with finish on the Mur de la Velomédiane. At this race there is only room for a limited number of participants. Afterwards, the small number of participants will have the possibility to continue with the longest two distances of the sportive. Participation is reserved for riders who have won a gold medal in 2019 or 2021 and who hold a Belgian or foreign racing license.

The number of participants is limited to 175 riders per category:

  • 18 - 34 years (departure at 09:05)
  • 35 - 44 years (departure at 09:03)
  • 45 years and older (departure at 09:00)

What about Espace Cycles?

In principle, these regulations also apply to the Espace Cycles, but of course the authorities may not enforce the law there. After all, this GF takes place in a different region. For now, the Espace Cycles seems to continue as a gran fondo, but we will keep an eye on this.

End of an era

This marks the end of an era. The Criq is and was the most appealing, toughest and most famous gran fondo that Belgium has ever known. Big names have won the Criq, the last winner Arnaud de Lie even made it to the WorldTour. Despite all the changes, organizer Laurent Goffinet is satisfied with the new format:

"I think we found a good compromise with the authorities: a challenging race for the competitive riders, who can continue after the race on the 173 km or on the new 133 km distance. The participants who want to complete the 173 km or 133 km course will not lack anything either. They will still be proud to have completed the demanding course. Moreover, their time will still be measured. These changes are in everyone's interest, for the safety of the participants and other road users."

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