The most important climbs of the Women’s Tour of Flanders

The Tour of Flanders, also known as the Ronde van Vlaanderen, is one of the most prestigious one-day professional cycling races in the world. The men’s race has been held annually since 1913, while the women’s race was first introduced in 2004. The course of the Tour of Flanders is renowned for its challenging terrain, including several steep and cobbled climbs that make the race a true test of strength and endurance. One interesting quirk of the women’s Tour of Flanders is that the Muur van Geraardsbergen is rarely included. In this article, we will take a closer look at the most important climbs in the 2023 women’s Tour of Flanders bike race.

Oude Kwaremont

The Oude Kwaremont is arguably the most famous climb in the Tour of Flanders. It is a steep, cobbled climb that averages a gradient of 4% over 2.2 kilometres, with sections reaching up to 11%. The Oude Kwaremont is often a key point in the race, as riders who can make it to the top with the leading group have a good chance of going on to win. The Oude Kwaremont is usually climbed twice in the women’s race, with the second ascent coming around 20 kilometres from the finish, proving crucial in the final splits.

Paterberg

The Paterberg is another steep, cobbled climb that features prominently in the Tour of Flanders. It is a short but challenging climb, just 360 metres long, but with an average gradient of 12.9% and sections reaching up to 20%. The Paterberg is often decisive in the women’s race, as riders who are not in a good position when they reach the base of the climb can quickly lose ground. The Paterberg is usually climbed once in the women’s race, around 13 kilometres from the finish. The riders who reach the top of the Paterberg first usually contest the win.

Women's peloton on the Oude Kwaremont
Photo Credit: Flanders Classics
Women’s peloton on the Oude Kwaremont
Photo Credit: Flanders Classics

Koppenberg

The Koppenberg is one of the most iconic climbs in the Tour of Flanders. It is a steep, cobbled climb that is just over a kilometre long, with an average gradient of 11.6% and sections reaching up to 22%. The Koppenberg is notorious for its difficulty, with many riders struggling to stay upright on the slippery cobbles. The Koppenberg is usually climbed once in the women’s race, around 45 kilometres from the finish. It hasn’t been a part of the women’s race for as long as the men’s race but is now a fixture.

Kruisberg

The Kruisberg is a climb that is often overlooked in the Tour of Flanders, but it can still have a big impact on the race. It is a steep, cobbled climb that is just over a kilometre long, with an average gradient of 6.5% and sections reaching up to 9%. The Kruisberg is usually climbed once in the women’s race, around 60 kilometres from the finish. Rarely a race decider, it still saps the energy from race contenders’ legs.

Taaienberg

The Taaienberg is another important climb in the Tour of Flanders. It is a cobbled climb that is just over half a kilometre long, with an average gradient of 6.6% and sections reaching up to 18%. The Taaienberg is usually climbed once in the women’s race, around 85 kilometres from the finish. Famous in the men’s race for the attacks of Tom Boonen, we could see moves here or shadowboxing heading for the crucial sections ahead.

The Tour of Flanders is a race that is steeped in history and tradition, and the women’s race is no exception. The cobbled climbs of the Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg, Koppenberg, Kruisberg, and Taaienberg are some of the most challenging and iconic features of the race, and they test the riders to their limits. Winning the Tour of Flanders is a major achievement for any cyclist, and conquering these climbs is a key part of that success.

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