Belgian Classics country

Away from the races, the quiet roads of Flanders don't look like much, but it is here that some of the biggest races are won or lost, the reputations of heroes are cemented, and myths and legends are made. Full of history, these are the sites of the most intense, excitement-filled metres in the entire cycling season

Photo: Graham Watson

From the bergs

In the Tour of Flanders centre just off the main square in Oudenaarde, there’s an exhibit among the sparkling old bikes and faded jerseys that asks what makes a Flandrian. The answer, labelled on an image of a rider grimacing through a faceful of grime, is that they must be hard as nails. A Flandrian is a stoic symbol of strength, built of tough stuff, built for the cobbles. But they are also modest, quiet, and restrained; flamboyancy is well and truly reserved for the Italians.

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