Tiegemberg, Muur van Geraardsbergen to feature in 2020 Belgian road championships

Tim Merlier (Alpecin Fenix)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The infamous climbs of the Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Tiegemberg will feature in the postponed Belgian championships when they take place for elite men on September 22.

The race, set to be held two days following the end of the Tour de France and in the middle of the UCI Road World Championships, will be 235.8 kilometres long, according to Sporza.be (opens in new tab).

Elite men will start in Halle and ride a large loop of 104 kilometres followed by seven 18.8km local laps in Anzegem, with the Muur coming 33km into the route.

The climb, also known as the Kapelmuur after the chapel at the top, is "a mythical slope that we definitely wanted to include in our course," according to race director Eric Demets.

The local laps will include the Tiegemberg - frequently used in Gent-Wevelgem, E3 Harelbeke, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and other races in Flanders - is only 750 metres long and averages a 5.6 per cent gradient, topping out at 9 per cent. But coming twice per lap for a total of 14 trips, riders will certainly feel it on the final lap.

Riders have been concerned about racing the championships so soon after the Tour, with Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quickstep) speculating it would favour one rider, Thomas De Gendt, but that was before the route announcement.

Deceuninck-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere still thinks the course will favour riders coming out of the Tour de France. "If they bite their teeth for two hours, the sore legs become good legs. The Tiegemberg will feel like a bridge after the Tour. They will fly up it."

The elite women are also scheduled to compete for the title on the same course, however the race comes one day after the elite women's time trial at Worlds.

The course might be bad news for defending champion Tim Merlier (Fenix-Alpecin) but it will be welcome for Classics specialists like Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team).

The Belgian championships normally happen in June but they were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic when government officials prohibited any mass events until lifting the restrictions earlier this month.

The UCI allotted the weekend of August 22-23 for national championships but the Belgian federation opted to move the race to September when the country was under a sports prohibition through August 31.

The Belgian time trial championships are in Koksijde on August 20.

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