Sports | 1 April 2016Ready for the Ronde? Simon Warren’s guide to climbing the Oude Kwaremont Share article facebook twitter google pinterest One of the jewels in the muddied, sweat-stained crown of the Spring Classics is almost upon us. The 100th edition of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, taking place this Sunday, will cover much familiar territory, visiting some of the area’s most punishing hellingen. The Oude Kwaremont remains a highlight of the parcours (at least for spectators), with its rugged, off-camber cobbles and a maximum gradient of 12% taking its toll after a long day in the saddle. Sunday’s winner in the men’s elite race will tackle the Oude Kwaremont three times, whilst the women’s race is spared the return visits. In both cases, with the final ascent less than 20km from the finish line, an attack on the climb could be decisive. Simon Warren, author of Belgium’s Greatest Cycling Climbs, has provided his guide to conquering the Oude Kwaremont for us mere mortals. He rates it an 8 out of 10 on the suffer scale, and this for a man who eats mountains for breakfast. Proceed with caution, a double-layer of bar tape, and a healthy dose of Rule #5: “This one’s a real monster, it’s been a cornerstone of the Tour of Flanders for generations, as well as being a defining ascent in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and many other races. Leaving the outskirts of Berchem the climb begins on Broektestraat, and the first third is tarmac as you rise gently before a slight right turn; here the gradient kicks in and then you hit the cobbles. The transition between the two surfaces feels as if, in an instant, someone has swapped your forks for a jackhammer and your whole body is shaken to its core. The stones are large and reasonably uniform and there’s a significant camber, which bulges in places, forcing gaps to appear and cobbles to dislodge. It is steep all the way to the edge of the village where you bend left and the gradient backs off, but the condition of the cobbles seriously deteriorates. Heading through Kwaremont, the road flattens; enjoy this calm because upon leaving, things turn a whole lot nastier. Now on Schilderstraat the slope increases up to a really steep ramp before it bends right. By now the cobbles are in such a bad state there’s barely a metre of rideable surface; in fact, the left-hand side has all but disintegrated by the time you reach the T-junction at the top.” If you want to set yourself a benchmark, be sure to take a look at the climb’s Strava segment before clipping in. The current KOM is held by Nikki Terpstra at 4.55 and QOM honours go to Ashleigh Moolman at 6.01, but no doubt Sunday’s action should trim a few spare seconds off here and there. Belgium’s Greatest Cycling Climbs by Simon Warren is the essential jersey pocket-sized guide to the country’s finest hellingen, and is available via www.quartoknows.com. Keep up to date with Simon on Twitter @100Climbs and come back over the weekend for our guides to more decisive hills from the Ronde. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.