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12-10-2023 | Marcel van Herten

Münsterland Giro 2023: ‘dann sind wir Profis für einen Tag’

The Jedermann Rennen, Germany's equivalent of the gran fondo, often advocates the motto: pro for a day. The Sparkassen Münsterland Giro is no exception. With closed and car-free roads, impeccable organization, and the opportunity to watch the pro race after your own, it truly embodies the spirit of "Profi für einen Tag." The 2023 edition introduces a unique twist usually reserved for seasoned riders: racing on a Tuesday. Since 2006, the Münsterland Giro has traditionally coincided with October 3, the Day of German Unity, and this year, it happens to fall on a Tuesday, providing a delightful midweek break.

Photograph: A serene start with no nerves.

Exceptional atmosphere rooted in German solidity

As the final major cycling event of the season, the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro, held on a day off, is a perennial favorite. This year, a staggering 5,200 participants will tackle the three available distances. The event attracts numerous enthusiastic spectators at the start and finish, as well as along the towns and climbs on the route, creating a vibrant atmosphere. The support system is robust, with hundreds of helpful students contributing to various facets of the event, from registration to serving as signalmen or clearing autumn leaves along the finish line. The event's organization and the safety measures for the thousands of riders reflect the epitome of Deutsche Gründlichkeit – German thoroughness at its best!

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Elements of a classic race

The Münster region offers a versatile backdrop for crafting an engaging cycling course. While the 2022 edition featured a completely flat route, this year's focus shifts to the Teutoburg Forest. This hilly terrain around Tecklenburg shares similarities with South Limburg and the Flemish Ardennes.

After a flat initial stretch of approximately forty kilometers, participants encounter challenging climbs like the Sudenfelder Strasse, Gretzmanns Esch, Tunnel Road, Kleeberg, and Brandenberg. This challenging section spans 35 kilometers of winding country roads, navigating elevations of around 750 meters, followed by a flat fifty kilometers back to Münster, where the traditional finish occurs at the Schlossplatz. With a formidable westerly wind, demanding climbs, narrow country roads, and the potential for rain in the finale, all the ingredients converge for a classic race experience.

Photo: Capturing the essence of rustic country roads.

A beautiful day with a minor flaw

Under a foreboding autumn sky, Marcel Klapwijk, Wouter Fioole, and I, representing CycloWorld, embark on the race in the Altstadt at 9:50 am. The initial four kilometers through the winding center of Münster are neutralized. The official start is signaled upon reaching the Dortmund-Ems Canal, and true to German gran fondo tradition, the race immediately accelerates. Serving as the finale of the German Cycling Cup (a regular classification of various German gran fondos), the event becomes a focal point for final point distributions, heightening the nervous energy. Combined with the brisk wind, this leads to several crashes in the early stages, with Marcel Klapwijk unfortunately becoming a victim in a significant crash after twelve kilometers. In his words, 'About fifty men/women wanted to hug intimately. A bit of asphalt chafing, and a big turn for the bike is the payoff.' Despite setbacks, Marcel perseveres with some ground to make up.

Photo: Yours truly navigating the group.

I manage to maintain my position among the first thirty participants in the peloton quite well. Just under ten kilometers before the hilly zone, the pace picks up, and after 55 minutes, we approach the Sudenfelder Strasse with an average speed of almost 45 km/h. The climb challenges us, and I find myself letting go of the first part of the group. After Gretzmanns Esch, a second group of thirty to forty riders forms around me. The ascent of the Tunnelweg puts climbing skills to the test once again, preparing us for the daunting Kleeberg. This climb, with gradients of up to 23%, proves to be a formidable challenge. Wouter joins our group on the plateau that follows the climb up Brandenberg, marked by the distinctive Tecklenburg radio mast. This marks both the summit of Brandenberg and the conclusion of the hilly section. The road continues to rise over a good kilometer, sometimes at a 15% incline, but Wouter and I maintain our lead in the group.

Photograph: A resilient Marcel Klapwijk pushing through the lead.

Adhering to German legislation requiring a fully closed course, organizers avoid through roads to minimize impact on the surrounding areas. The route takes us through country roads and the Naturschutzgebiet Rieselfelder Münster, heading back towards Münster. Narrow roads and a strong headwind often signal a challenging course. However, forming echelons and utilizing drafting techniques are not as prevalent in the cycling strategies of many Germans. As a result, the pace fluctuates, and the group frequently fans out across the road. Several attempts to break away prove futile. As the final kilometers unfold and the city limits of Münster come into view, the pace picks up somewhat.

A sprint to the finish, and the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro 2023 concludes. Securing ninth and eleventh places among the 264 participating Masters 2 (40 to 49 years), Wouter and I reflect on a satisfying performance. Marcel Klapwijk eventually crosses the finish line in 103rd place. For comprehensive results, refer to this link.

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