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Rainbow race: the parcours

So, by now you all know that Sunday there'll be a muddy battle for the rainbow jersey. And you also know it's in Heusden-Zolder. We've been there before. Often. But it's a bit different this time around.

The place to be.
The place to be.

Heusden-Zolder has a world cup every year, on Boxing Day. It's also had a world champs road cycling, way back in 2002. Mario Cipollini beat Robbie McEwen and Erik Zabel.

Saturday and Sunday the race circuit of Zolder will host the world champs once more, but this time with a muddy flavour. It's a bit different than what we're used to, though. There be bridges now.

Four, in total. Well four for the riders and a few extra for the people, cause they're expecting about 50.000 people come Sunday. "The bridges are steeper than they seem", dixit KVT during recon. But I highly doubt they'll hurt anyone. Most damage they could do is someone slipping on them with muddy tires.

Because mud there'll definitely be. It's rained all week, and it's gonna rain more. Mostly on Sunday. Which kinda sucks for yours truly who'll be standing in said rain. But anyways.

The rain will be the biggest adversary, pared with the natural hills in the pine forest around Zolder race circuit. The part in the forest is technical stuff - with a million (ok, seven) corners around tree roots and pine cones. After that it's back to the hills.

The most famous hill is Sacrament Mountain, with a little chapel on top. The hill is also called Silent Hill, because silence reigns around the chapel. No crowds, no spectators allowed.

Plenty of spectators around the double slanted corner though.It's gonna be slip 'n slidy come Sunday. It takes some nerve to get back down the hill - the descent is steep. But don't you worry, there's cushions at the bottom. That means it's safe, right?

One final obstacle before the finish: a steep, carry-the-bike all the way up kind of hill. Then it's fast to the finishline, to do it all over again.

ps - for a while there was talk about logs on the parcours. The organisation wanted them, the UCI didn't. The UCI won.