Gravel racing is largely seen as an American phenomenon, but Europe also has its share of rough-road racing at the highest level. Earlier this season we saw Wout van Aert tough out the white roads of the Strade Bianche, and the Spring Classics such as the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are also known for their cobbles.
Over the weekend, the UCI Europe Tour returned to the gravel at the Dwars Door Het Hageland one-day race that is part of the Napoleon Games Cup. Held outside the Belgian town of Hageland, the course features several sections of gravel and cobbles Europe’s top road rides have to contend with.
The gravel and cobble sections were added to the course in 2016, and in that time, the race has seen an impressive list of podium finishers. 2018 Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) won in 2016, and Wout van Aert (Veranda’s Willems Crelan) finished second. In 2017, Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) won the race with Van Aert finishing third.
This year, Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy) won the mixed-terrain race. Familiar face Gianni Vermeersch (Corendon-Circus) finished third. A number of other European cyclocrossers contested the race as part of their ’cross offseason road racing schedules. Full results from the race are available here.
The visuals in the highlight video provide a good look at some of the rough roads at the Dwars Door Het Hageland. After seeing what Ted King has done at the Dirty Kanza 200 post-retirement, perhaps it’s a bummer the race was re-booted with the gravel sections the year after he retired.