The next three weeks are the highlight of the cycling calendar for me. I have about 3,500 posts brewing in my head (a number which will come down as reality intervenes), but to get us started I thought I'd do a little mapping, for orientation purposes:
View Vlaamse Wielerweek in a larger map
The point of this map is to show that while we have a variety of events happening over the next three weeks, they're all hopelessly intertwined. Here are a few orientation tips.
1. The Main Line
I drew a blue line along the E17, formerly named the E3 (ring a bell?), which links Gent to Kortrijk and points beyond. I'm calling this "the Main Line," which I just made up. Most of the teams seem to stay in Kortrijk, though Garmin and perhaps some others stay in Gent. On the west side of Main Line you can find the starts and finishes for all the Flemish races except the Scheldeprijs and De Ronde (E17 exit signs are pretty exciting). For training purposes, you can ride out of Kortrijk and ride all the main portions of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem, and even the later bits of Paris-Roubaix. OK, in the latter case you're better off driving around Lille first, and anyway you'll need a car with spare wheels. But Kortrijk is still pretty close by. Gent is really only good for getting to...
2. The Vlaamse Ardennen
A/k/a the Flemish Ardennes. The group of pin points to the east of the Main Line signifies the Vlaamse Ardennen. I marked the high points and a few major secteurs of stones, both to delineate the area and mark those particularly hallowed grounds.
3. The Outliers
And then there's everything else. Scheldeprijs is up north and east, by Antwerp. Driedaagse stops in Oudenaarde but is mostly out on the beach. Kemmelberg in west of Kortrijk a bit.
Basically, the E3 and Dwars door Vlaanderen stay close to the Main Line and make excursions into the Vlaamse Ardennen. Gent-Wevelgem starts and finishes along the main line but goes west, for a little variety. Driedaagse de Panne spends the first stage venturing from its outlier location to Oudenaarde, with a few Ardennes climbs thrown in, before returning to the beach. The Ronde van Vlaanderen encompasses the whole enchilada. And Paris-Roubaix ends just to the south, close enough that you could almost touch it.
Quicky note from Gav: I have put the lovely map thingy below the fold, cuz it was slowing down the page load kind of a lot.