The organisers of the Tour of Flanders and former professional rider Laurens ten Dam have announced plans to create a gravel event this summer, with Flanders Gravel due to take place between July 2-4.
According to a press release, the three-day event will "open up the gravel world to the iconic Koppenberg, Paterberg, Kluisberg and Oude Kwaremont cobbled climbs."
The organisers readily admit that the event’s future is entirely dependant on the COVID-19 pandemic and any restrictions brought in by government or local authorities, but they are hopeful of providing a safe event for participants as gravel events begin to take off further across Europe. For those reasons, the event has back-up dates scheduled for mid-October.
"We hope to see light at the end of the tunnel," Flanders Classics CEO Tomas Van Den Spiegel said on Thursday.
"So, we have been working hard in the background to launch this event. If all is well, we will welcome participants to Flanders in early July. We have also set up an alternative date of October 16-18. Riders opting for the day ticket – the Saturday Troopers – will set off in the morning of July 2 from the iconic downtown square in Oudenaarde to head out for their 80, 120 or 160-kilometre ride.
"Flanders Gravel focuses mainly on the recreational rider. We look forward to a weekend where the gravel bike will be the centre of attention combined with the relaxed and unique gravel ambiance. Topped off with routes that will bring the riders to undiscovered cobblestones, our famous bergs and unique gravel sections. If you successfully complete the Flanders Gravel event, you have truly earned yourself the title of Gravel Flandrien."
Ten Dam has been racing and riding gravel and off-road events for several years. Since retiring from road racing, he has set-up LtD Gravel Rides, maintained a high level as an elite multi-disciplined racer, and written as a columnist for Procycling magazine.
"Gravel riding is getting more and more popular in Belgium. Working with Flanders Classics assures the riders of the best overall experience - the best of road and cyclo-cross history mixed with authentic gravel DNA," Ten Dam said.
"The Flanders Gravel event offers a challenging bike ride in a region that lives and breathes De Ronde. Hopefully health conditions will allow us to enjoy our iconic gravel ride in July. Afterwards we all can relax around the campfire with a beer in our hand, music in the background, talking about the great adventures we had during the ride. Gravel riding is enjoyment. Who can say no to that?"
More information can be found here.
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