Four Kilometers Through Battlefield
Passed the Irish Peace Tower of Mesen the Ghent-Wevelgem route is modified for a passage across the World War One battlefields. The area is 5.7km long including 4 of them on half-asphalted little roads. The ‘Plugstreets’ owe their names to the British soldiers of the time who had a hard time pronouncing “Ploegsteert”.
(Gazet van Antwerpen 23/11/2016)
2017 Edition more than ever a tribute to the Great War with a passage over the land paths in Flanders Fields.
With three half asphalted sections with 4km altogether Ghent-Wevelgem goes more than a century back in time. The route even goes across the World War One battlefield in Ploegstreet whereby this WorldTour-monument gets even more nervous than ever.
The three Plugstreets don’t come like that. The land paths of the time perfectly fit in the story of the Classic in Flanders Fields.
Ghent-Wevelgem: that has always been the game of wind in the Moeren and the Westhoek [a great sand region around De Panne with an oasis inside it
], the hilly roads
and hills of the Heuvelland, and then the long straight roads to Wevelgem. Last year there were even 7 races in one day and in 2017 the organization added an extra dimension to it with the introduction of three half-asphalted sections in Ploegsteert alongside bunkers, above trenches and alongside the Christmas Truce Monument
in Komen-Waasten for the single Christmas ceasefire of the war in 1914. Greenroads
is the name of these farmer paths who are situated in the no man’s land around the Plugstreet Experience 14-18 Belevingsmuseum and who get along historically valuable places. They are chariots path sprinkled with gravels and not much wider than a car.
Last year I was advised by Rudy Lamond (member of the organization of Ghent-Wevelgem, e.d.) who was bitten by this cruel history of this back land where Flanders goes over to the Hainaut province and Northern France The first time I saw the Plugstreets I was skeptical. I’m not even a fan of the Strade Bianche which goes through a lot of non-asphalt roads but the municipality Ploegsteert was very much honoured and promised to refine it but not to sweep it up. That was unnecessary. The riders we invited last week for a test asked to please not do it otherwise from a race viewpoint it makes no sense. There is less chance of flat tyre there than in the Arenberg Forest or the Carrefour de l’Arbre, the key points of Paris-Roubaix
says Hans De Clercq [I’m wondering how a dirt road can be less open to flat tyre than cobbles but well, ???]
Those test pilots were Jens Debusschere, Sep Vanmarcke, neo pro Maxime Farazijn, [Mr Aranesp] Johan Museeuw and Nico Mattan.
You know that here you have to be in front. Everybody knows that there'll be a hard fight there. Okay it goes on narrow roads but that is also what Ghent-Wevelgem is. Otherwise you need to remove every roads in Flanders. It's a good ride-able area on which you good less chance to recover.
According to Debusschere it won’t happen on Plugstreets soon.
These are not Strade Bianche situations. This I’m glad about. The most dangerous spot is just thereafter when you get to the wide roads. It will be all in one line. If the wind is then good, you can make an echelon out of it. It belongs to the peculiarity of the race that can lead to two options, a bunch sprint or a small group sprint.
The big difference is that after the first crossing of the Kemmel there’s a deviation from the wide road pattern. Now between km 163 and 210 (the last trip on the Kemmel) it can be a nervous race.
Hans De Clercq
I don’t expect that you can win the race on the Plugstreets but you lose it. From the Mount Noir to the second time on the Kemmel, you also get 3 climbs in 10km
[Ploegsteert is the hometown of the Vandenbroucke family. No need to translate the bit about the infamous nephew of Jean-Luc’s]
Ghent-Wevelgem is about ready with its new identity with this new find because it has always been the aim to link the sad past and today. Hans De Clercq:
Last year we even had 50,000 TV viewers more than Paris-Roubaix and as much as the Tour of Flanders. Ghent-Wevelgem in the background of Flanders Fields is a world story that touches as much the Chinese as the Canadians.
(Nieuwsblad – 15 March 2017)Ghent-Wevelgem Cares for Safer Feed Zone
Ghent-Wevelgem organizers set new rules to improve safety in the feed zone. It comes from former [clinical]
rider Jacky Durand. The idea was straight forward:
The soigneurs stay where they are. Beforehand teams are given a number. The soigneurs are also with their number in their job [not sure if my translation is correct, Dutchies help me?]. There are always 5 teams on a 100m distance. In zone 1: teams with numbers 1 to 5, in Zone 2: those with numbers 6 to 10, etc. The numbers in the feed zones match those of the following cars. For Ghent-Wevelgem, there needs to be a 500m zone in order to give room to every team.
Says Hans De Clercq, race director.
The new system had already been adapted in the Gooikse Pijl and Jacky Durand introduced it in the Boucles de la Mayenne.
I hope that the UCI and race organisers quickly adapt it everywhere.
Says Hans De Clercq again.