Standing on the line of the 95th Stadprijs Geraardsbergen was quite an experience; the oldest Pro Kermis on the calendar is no ordinary race. The route goes over the famous “Muur of Geraardsbergen,” famous for being the decisive climb in the Tour of Flanders. Luckily for us, the main circuit only covered the first portion of the climb and only the final lap reached the summit.
The “Muur” is famous as being the critical point in the Tour of Flanders. Unfortunately, the climb is no longer part of Flanders but with an average gradient of 9,5% and a maximum of 19% over 1km of unforgiving rough cobbles, it’s also famous for being brutal.
The history of the climb was great enough to attract some top Pro Tour riders, so among the 227 starters, it was going to be a tough fight. The race started at the foot of the climb so right away the bunch was spitting riders out the back. I maintained a good position on the climb and quickly settled into my legs; however, surviving the climb was only half the battle. After we descended from the Muur, we turned into an unforgiving crosswind that strung the bunch out into an endless single file line. As the circuit turned back toward the Muur, the bunch reformed to battle for position.
As each of the 12km laps ticked over, I settled into my legs and really began to enjoy the race, especially with the amount of history under my wheels. Around halfway, I unfortunately got caught behind a crash on the Muur, the toughest and narrowest point of the race. Determined not to let someone else be the end of my race, I launched into a balls out chase. However, I soon realized my race was over and pulled the pin.
I was bitterly disappointed the way my race was over, especially since I had good legs, but racing up the famous “Muur of Geraardsbergen” was one heck of a consolation prize.