Last weekend, about 1000 cycling enthusiasts enjoyed a brand new gravel tour in the Flemish Ardennes. Among them are the men of the Polderblues, Florian Vermeersch’s training club. They set out for a 160-kilometer campaign. And that turned out to be very enjoyable.
9 out of 10 for entertainment and enjoyment
“Digging and cycling are a world of difference,” says Florian Vermeersch. “Forest, gravel lanes, cobblestones, … a gravel course slides a lot more, it’s actually a different discipline.”
Nevertheless, the second of Paris-Roubaix is happy to exchange his racing bike for the gravel bike this time of the year. He does this together with Lotto Soudal colleagues Brent Van Moer and Viktor Verschaeve.
Vermeersch: “We’ve been working on it for a while. It’s pure enjoyment. On a scale of 10, I give it a 9.”
Watch the sports weekend report with Florian Vermeersch:
Laurens Ten Dam: “Everyone is welcome”
Laurens Ten Dam is also crazy about gravel. The ex-rider discovered the discipline about five years ago and thought that Flanders also deserved its own gravel tour. Under his impulse, the “Flanders Gravel” event was born.
Ten Dam: “I always loved racing in Flanders. The cobblestones, the people at the start, the Belgian beers the night before, … Belgium is the home of cycling. Now that gravel is bon-ton, it is inevitable that Belgium has its own gravel course. That’s what I worked for.”
I had lived in that Holland for 20 years and suddenly started driving into roads that I had not driven in all that time.
“Digging means freedom and adventure”, Laurens Ten Dam continues. “Even in the vicinity of your own home you will discover so much new because you have always ridden the racing bike.”
“I had lived in Holland for 20 years and suddenly started driving into roads that I hadn’t driven in in all that time. That’s one of the parts that are so nice about gravel.”
“In addition, it is inclusive. Everyone is welcome. And finally there is also the beer and the party afterwards. That is also something that is very nice.”