A personal encounter from our man on the ground, Ashley Evans, at the cobbled classics:
“When I thought of Belgium I imagined a grey, windy cold country. Which is what I got. Our first ride from Northern Flanders down to Kemmel with a climb up the Kemmelberg and the Monteberg was perfect for an early season classic, with a cross wind all the way out and a block headwind the 30 miles home. Somehow, after that the rest of the week was perfect weather and just consisted of day after day of sunshine.
While we were out there we visited three races; Tour of Flanders which Alexander Kristoff won. My uncle and I drove out to the Kwaremont and got a prime spot just before the top, where we could see the riders last attempts at creating a gap. The atmosphere was incredible, spectators with massive sound systems playing Euro house and a deep smell of mayo and beer.
Wednesday we went out to the start of Scheldeprijs, a semi classic in Antwerp. I was pretty excited to meet a lot of my cycling heroes as well as get a good look at some of the new bike tech. Most notably Team Skys Dogma K8S and the gorgeous Europcar Colnagos.
Finally, the big one, Paris Roubaix. First up we went to Arenberg which was again the most surreal atmosphere. At both ends of the 2.7km section were two huge festival sized stages with DJs playing a mixture of rave trance and Jamaican Ragga while kids and their mums danced on stage. In the middle of sector 18 was prime spot for us with numerous punctures and crashes right there. However the Carrefour de L’abre was the best, period. Standing there in the middle of this field I had goosebumps. For me as someone who dreams of winning this race, this was THE sector. My desktop screen is riders creating gaps on this one road, so for me to see my heros less the an arms length away was the best, I got some decent photos too!
Now the bit you’ve been waiting for, The riding, the few good rides we got in took us on 3/4 hour jaunts into the Flemish Ardennes and Huevellands, also a nice little jaunt into Bruges, which by the way is beautiful.”