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Preview: Dwars door de Westhoek

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Sunday 18th July

Koersboezinge2010klein_medium

Here’s a little oddity for you. It’s July right now, so in biking terms that’s the season of sunflowers, stage races, and Ben Stiller. Yet in that little remote corner of Belgium known as de Westhoek they are putting on a one day race complete with bergs and small narrow dangerous descents. It’s like having a second Christmas in May because you don’t want to wait a whole year. And why not.

There’s something very satisfying about how race organisers in Belgium understand the internet, demonstrated perfectly by the organisers of the Dwars door de Westhoek. You want to promote a race? OK, start with a website and put everything there. So that’s a course map pointing out clearly where you can stock up on bananas, a route planner highlighting the dangerous sections, a map of the start area complete with marked routes between the various areas, and a brief summary of the location of the bergs that you can cut out and put on your handlebars. All of those are downloadable pdfs, but if you’d prefer a Word version then they offer a that too. Everything you could ever want to know about the race in one central place.

image via www.sportsites.be

The course itself is pretty straightforward. At 14:30 CET it leaves from the centre of the village of Boezinge, just north of Ieper/Ypres, loops out to the west and south of Ieper for 70km passing over five bergs, then returns to Boezinge for seven laps of a 9.5km circuit for a total race distance of 127km. Here from the routebook are the five bergs, complete with the distance into the course they are, their lengths, surfaces, average and maximum gradients.

17.20 Rodenberg 1700 m Asfalt 4.8 % 13 %
23.30 Monteberg 1000 m Asfalt 7 % 13 %
28.60 Nieuwkerke Dorp 750 m Asfalt 5 % 5 %
32.70 Kraaiberg 500 m Asfalt 3.3 % 7 %
34.80 Mesenberg 500 m Asfalt 6 % 6 %

The website also includes a list of the teams riding, plus a downloadable startlist (word doc), although the latter is possibly not so reliable (I doubt that Rochelle Gilmore will be making an overnight dash from Italy to be here, and some of the other names there are out in Turkey riding the U23 championships). Watch out for names from the big teams, I guess, especially those putting on their shiny new national champions kits su7c as Loes Gunnewijk of Nederland Bloeit. Swedish champion Emma Johansson and Marianne Vos don’t appear on the start list, and Leontien.nl don’t have any riders listed. A good outside bet would be Sara Mustonen of Hitec UCK, and surely some here will be looking forward to how the Horizon Fitness team cope.

No sign of any video as yet, but I would expect at the very least to see some home-shot clips appear on You Tube soon after the race ends.