CYCLING TOURS AND HOLIDAYS | Spring Classics, Northern Europe & WW1

Combining the Spring Classics Cycle Races and WW1 Sites

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1 April - 14 April 2020 (14 Days / 13 Nights)

For many, we all know about the Spring Classics bike races. And the Classics are right up there with the Tour de France. What may come as a surprise is that during World War 1 a small number of Kiwis and Aussies operated as the Anzac Cyclist Battalion, mainly in Northern France and Belgium.

Our plan is find the perfect mix between the Spring Classics bike races along with honouring those who rode before us. We'll visit towns that the Anzac cyclists stayed in, visit some of the main memorial sites, and even mirror some of their rides.

We've tinkered with the extremely successful 2018 bike tour, to make it even better. We've decided to start and finish in Brussels, and our 2020 cycling tour is designed with less hotels. This means, less time in vehicles and more time on holiday! You will also see that we've added a V.I.P. experience for the Tour of Flanders.

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Overview of the Tour

This tour focuses on Belgium and the North-East France Region

This tour blends the love of cycling with the Spring Classics and Ronde van Vlaanderen (aka Tour of Flanders in English). To help you get a feel of what we offer, it's all about 2 key regions...Belgium and north east France.

It's the perfect tour for combining the spectacular beauty that Belgium offers (Brussels, Bruges and Oudenaarde), along with the magnificent beauty of northern France. What's not to like here, so we take some time to relax and explore the Champagne region, and we'll be dining in Reims, one of the most beautiful cities in France.

Our cycling tour incorporates some amazing and heart pumping cycling throughout the region. You don't just get to see the local countryside; you'll get to experience aspects of the Tour of Flanders. And for those who joined us on our 2018 trip, you'll know this region truly offers an unforgettable experience.

What's more, this tour isn't just about the cycling. While we are in this region we visit some key historical World War 1 sites. This includes Le Quesnoy, the network of the Arras Tunnels in Northern France, and the Menin Gate Memorial. Be assured we welcome your partners and non-riders to join us (which we fondly referred to as Team Macchiato); they will have their own guide and tour itinerary.

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Key Features of the Tour

Key features include:

  • Highlight #1: The chance to ride both the Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders Sportive.
  • Highlight #2: The tour includes a V.I.P. experience for the Tour of Flanders. New for this 2020 cycling tour.
  • PLUS: For the cycling group, there will be a choice of 2 to 3 daily rides. Often 60, 80 and 100km plus.
  • Visit to Moet and Chandon for an amazing wine tasting.
  • Visit Le Quesnoy, the WW1 Arras Tunnels, and the Menin Gate Memorial.
  • 5 days and nights in Belgium (Brussels & Oudenaarde region).
  • 3 days and nights in the Champagne region, France
  • 1 day in north east France and Ypres seeing many of the key WW1 sights of this region.
  • 3 days in northern France to experience the Paris-Roubaix Sportive, with seats booked to see the most important bit - the finish line! Yep, we are right there amongst the action.
  • Back to Belgium to enjoy a quiet country area, and dinner in Leuven.
  • Then it's au revoir - time to say goodbye.

Tour Details


Tour Inclusions

  • 13 nights' accommodation in quality 3 & 4 star hotels
  • All breakfasts, 11 dinners and 2 lunches
  • 7 - 8 staff including mechanic, non-riding guide
  • GPS assistance & physical maps
  • Tips included for all European staff as well as meals included in the itinerary
  • Two vehicles - allows for flexibility
  • Souvenir booklet, itinerary included
  • RIDE Holidays cycling jersey and bibs, pants (special ANZAC WW1 version)
  • 2020 specific WW1, Spring Classics jacket and beanie
  • Local guides for various visits, especially for Team Mac.
  • Champagne, beer and chocolate tasting

    The Tour Price Excludes

    • Airfares and extra accommodation
    • Travel Insurance - compulsory!
    • Meals and alcohol not indicated in itinerary
    The Tour Cost (per person, New Zealand Dollars)
    • NZD$ 9400.00 per person
    • NZD$ 1285.00 Single room supplement
    • NZD$ 700.00 Bike hire
    • Deposit - $1500.00 per person. The balance is to be paid 90 days prior to departure.

    Please note: The cost of the tour is subject to change - mainly because of exchange rate fluctuations.




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      Spring Classics cycling tours and holidays, northern Europe cycling tours and holidays, cycling tours and holidays, bike tours and holidays Europe, spring classics bike tours
      Spring Classics cycling tours and holidays, northern Europe cycling tours and holidays, cycling tours and holidays, bike tours and holidays Europe, spring classics bike tours
      Spring Classics cycling tours and holidays, northern Europe cycling tours and holidays, cycling tours and holidays, bike tours and holidays Europe, spring classics bike tours
      Spring Classics, Northern Europe and WW1 Cycling Tour 2020 | Itinerary

      Day 1, Wednesday 01 April

      Brussels, Belgium

      Welcome to the home of cycling. On arrival in Brussels you are likely to be asked what cycle team you support as they are cycling fanatics. Welcome to the start of our adventure together.

      Today is easy, our hotel is located at the airport. Arrive early afternoon and then we'll put all the bikes together. Or if you have hired then we'll make sure everything fits.

      Tonight, we drive in to Brussels for a quick walk through the old town. Before sitting down town to a fantastic Belgian feast, supplemented by Belgian beer and Belgium chocolates. This trip is no weight-loss program. We'll introduce the team and talk through the next two weeks.

      Meals included - Dinner
      Hotel - Brussels Airport


      Day 2, Thursday 2 April

      Oudenaarde, Belgium

      It's all about the cobbles. We start with a tour highlight. In our 2018 tour we found a cycling shop that is simply the best in the world. They even put on free coffee for us. We spent 90mins there and the only complaint was that it wasn't long enough. It really is a must and a great way to start our trip together.

      After the bike shop we head off to the Ronde van Vlaanderen Center. An interactive cycling-themed museum devoted to the Tour of Flanders. You simply can't go to this part of the world without visiting. It has its own café and even the sugar comes in UCI World Champion colours.

      This afternoon is all about getting on that bike for a leisurely ride of 50km. We'll target some of the Tour of Flanders Sportive course so there will be plenty of cobbles to practice on. The cobbles in Belgium are nice when compared with France. (hmm)

      Team Macchiato (non-riders) - we won't make you follow us to a bike shop. You'll head back off to Brussels to visit the world famous Atomium, and what is considered one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Europe, the ornate Grand Place. It is the center of Brussels, where many historic buildings dating from the 17th century are located.

      Meals included - Breakfast and Dinner
      Hotel - Oudenaarde


      Day 3, Friday 03 April

      Oudenaarde, Belgium

      It's all about B&B - Bruges & Beer. Today we head for Bruges. Via velo. Yes, we'd like to get a good ride under our belts. The plan is to ride from the hotel to the UNESCO World Heritage City. It's only 70km as the crow flies which is fine given that we have the Sportive tomorrow. Quite a bit of the ride is along a canal which features many WW1 bunkers. A new experience for a lot of us.

      Team Mac will embark on a journey through the Belgian countryside to Ghent, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit St. Bavo Cathedral, home to the world-famous Mystic Lamb painting, and take a walking tour of Ghent's churches and castles, including Gravensteen Castle. Then join us in Bruges - If you wanted to design a fairy-tale medieval town, it would be hard to improve on central Bruges. (Brugge in Dutch). Picturesque cobbled lanes and dreamy canals link photogenic market squares lined with soaring towers, historic churches and old whitewashed houses. And there's plenty of it.

      This afternoon we've booked two local walking guides to show us around. And we also hop on a canal boat. There will also be plenty of time to visit one of many breweries on offer. Dinner is back at the hotel as we prepare for tomorrow's adventure.

      Meals included - Breakfast and Dinner
      Hotel - Oudenaarde

      Day 4, Saturday 04 April

      Oudenaarde, Tour of Flanders Sportive

      Tomorrow sees the 104th edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders in English), one of cycling's legendary Spring Classics. The day before the pros battle it out, a sportive is held to allow weekend warriors to share the experience of riding the famous cobbles. Team RIDE Holidays won't be riding the full 260km distance; we are here for a holiday after-all! We will target the more social distances of 130 or 75km. Totally up to you.

      Today will offer a smorgasbord of cyclists from all over the world. It's more than just a bike ride. We encourage you to meet as many cyclists as you possibly can. Spain, Japan, Italy, Russia and Canada - you name it… all these countries will be represented. Shake a hand, kiss a baby and then let's have a beer together at the finish.

      Team Macchiato - Today you head for the coastal city of Ostend. The central city is gorgeous however most people visit this region to see the Atlantic WW1 Wall museums. There are also markets, plazas and of course tall ships like the Mercator. You certainly won't be bored. Or, if you decide that you want to be at the finish line to support your loved one then we can easily make that happen. Flexibility is the key.

      Meals included - Breakfast and Dinner (at the Ronde van Vlaanderen Center)
      Hotel - Oudenaarde

      Day 5, Sunday 05 April

      Oudenaarde, Tour of Flanders Spring Classic. V.I.P

      Simply put - a special day. We'll head off early in the bus as we want you to experience the race start in Antwerp. It's a must and a very rare occasion that you can get up close and personal with the professional teams before they set off on a hectic 260km. You can certainly see how nervous they are. With valid reason.

      We've changed a few things after 2018. One of those is that we simply need to have V.I.P seats for 2020. We'll pick one of the famous bergs on offer. Sit back and relax for the rest of the afternoon as you watch the race unfold. There will be a big screen, beer and of course the cobbles will be only metres away. You'll get to see the pro's three times today.

      Yes, a big day, but I can guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

      Tonight we sit down for a group dinner with the real likelihood that one of the pro teams will be at the next table. In 2018 we shared the restaurant with the winner - Niki Terpstra, Philippe Gilbert and the rest of the Quickstep team. It was a special night and one that we'd like to repeat in 2020.

      Meals included - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
      Hotel - Oudenaarde

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      France and the Champagne Region

      3 days for you to explore and enjoy northern France
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      Day 6, Monday 06 April

      Northern France and Moet et Chandon

      We leave our Belgium home this morning and travel to the Champagne region, in northern France.

      The last few days will have been pretty full on, so today we'll sleep in until just after 6am. Nah, let's make it 7am. After a leisurely breakfast before we get on the road. The great thing about this part of the world is that everything is close by. We could easily visit 3 to 4 countries by lunch. But, we won't.

      Our bike ride includes the Marfaux British Cemetery where there is a memorial commemorating 10 men who served with the New Zealand Cyclist Battalion, who were killed in July 1918 and have no known grave. There are thousands of graves. Including a German Cemetery in the field next door. Their crosses are grey which offers quite the contrast to the British Cemetery.

      Team Mac will join us this afternoon as we visit Moet and Chandon for a unique wine tasting. The NZCC visited here in 1919 so there certainly is some WW1 relevance.

      Meals included - Breakfast and Dinner
      Hotel - Champagne Region

      Day 7 & 8 (07 & 8 April)

      Time to explore the Champagne region

      Feedback from the 2018 trip is that there could have been a couple of days that offered bigger mileage. Well - we've listened. And, we've picked one of the most beautiful regions in France. So, today and tomorrow will offer rides up past the three digits. There will obviously be shorter rides for those not wanting to go long.

      Team Mac pretty much has two days to explore. You will be in the van rather than on a bike. There's the fantastic Montagne de Reims Regional Park where the cyclists will be. We will also visit the Lighthouse of Verzenay. From the top its 360 degree views. What of? Champagne Vineyards. Speaking of - as we don't have any WW1 visits there's plenty of time to visit one of the many Grand Champagne Houses.

      Both cyclists and Team Mac visit Hautvillers. One of the most beautiful villages in the area. Here we will find the famous Church of Hautvillers where is said that the Abbot Dom Pérignon discovered the process of fermenting & how to make a drink with bubbles.

      On one of the evenings we will dine in Reims. One of the most beautiful cities in France and capital city of the Champagne region.

      Meals included - Breakfast (Dinner own arrangements on both nights)
      Hotel - Champagne Region


      North East France and Lille

      We visit some key historical sites from World War 1
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      Day 9, Thursday 09 April

      Le Quesnoy, Arras tunnels and Menin Gate Memorial

      After 250km in the past 3 days we're looking at the next couple of days as a taper. Today's focus is purely on WW1. Although we will ride early for those who want to.

      First stop is - Le Quesnoy. Just a week before the end of the First World War in November 1918, the New Zealand Division captured the French town of Le Quesnoy. The Kiwis scaled a ladder set against the ancient walls of the town and took the remaining Germans as prisoners. The liberation of Le Quesnoy was just one of the many campaigns that New Zealanders fought on the Western Front, the line that stretched across northern France and Belgium.

      We then drive the short distance over to the tunnels at Arras. The museum, visitors centre and tour thereafter is fantastic, and a uniquely NZ story. In fact - after the 2018 trip I asked clients for their highlight and the tunnels were frequently mentioned.

      The network of tunnels remains one of the best-preserved traces of New Zealand's contribution to the First World War in Europe. The remarkable efforts of the men who built this system has been commemorated with the opening of the Arras Tunnel beneath the new National War Memorial Park in Wellington.

      And tonight at 8pm we attend the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is a war memorial in Ypres, dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient and whose graves are unknown.

      Our home for the next four nights is Lille. 19km from our hotel is a certain famous velodrome.

      Meals included - Breakfast and Dinner
      Hotel - Lille, Roubaix region


      Day 10, Friday 10 April

      Paris-Roubaix Sportive registration & exhibition

      Yesterday was busy so let's just relax a bit today. It's all about tomorrow's event.

      Let's keep the legs turning over. Nothing too serious but we will get to check out the French Cobbles. Have a preview of the Forest of Arenburg perhaps? It's likely we'll see some pro teams out riding the course too.

      This afternoon we then head to the Paris-Roubaix Sportive registration and exhibition. A visit to the famous Velodrome, those showers and the Roubaix Museum. It's certainly your best chance to buy PR souvenirs.

      This afternoon we rest our legs. If you took on 70km at the Tour of Flanders, then maybe you should step up a notch tomorrow. No pressure.

      Team Mac - there's absolutely nothing exciting for you with regard to what cyclists are up to. So, we'd like to take you to Le Tri Postal. Initially devoted to sorting mail, it was transformed at the Lille 2004 European Capital of Culture to be now a must for contemporary art. Perhaps a cooking class or a guided hop on, hop off bus tour? The Team Mac guide will show you plenty of options.

      There are lots of questions prior to the Paris-Roubaix Sportive. Let's meet for a drink prior to dinner where we'll talk about the day.

      Meals included - Breakfast and Dinner
      Hotel - Lille

      Day 11, Saturday 11 April

      Paris-Roubaix Sportive - 70, 145 or 172km?

      It's important to remember that this is a holiday (of sorts) and because of that we are suggesting that you choose one of the shorter fondo options. Both the 70 and 145km start and finish at the Roubaix Velodrome. Both include cobbles although it is certainly more of a ride than a race. Whatever you choose - this is a bucket-list ride that will be the envy of all your friends back home.

      You'll get a chance to ride with over 5000 other cyclists today. If it's the mystic Forest of Arenberg that you want then you'll need to pick the 145km option. Certainly you'll be fit enough by now. Let's hope for good weather.

      Team Macchiato - wave us off then tour the highlights of Lille, an historic French city on the Belgian border. Learn more about the history of Lille, founded in the 11th century and influenced by several cultures over the centuries before at last becoming French. See the evidence the Flemish, Burgundian and Spanish left on the city in Lille's varied architectural styles, among other things. Lille's top sights include the Old City, the Grand Palace, the Town Hall and Belfry

      BUT - we simply need you at the finish. Yes, some of us will be hurting. You'll be required for support as well as a few hugs. Tonight we dine together and discuss the plan for tomorrow. The pros will be anxious.

      Meals included - Breakfast and Dinner
      Hotel - Lille

      Day 12, Sunday 12 April

      Paris - Roubaix Grandstand view (V.I.P)

      In 2018 we nailed the day. The plan for today is to change nothing. It's simply a fantastic day watching the sport we love. There's no point in heading to the race start. It's a 3 hour drive away and you would have seen the Flanders start.

      Our plan is to drive to the first of the cobbles sections. The pros will have been riding for 100km before they see their first bit of pave. It's an awesome atmosphere as we join a few thousand French in a tiny town. Back on the coach please - just in time for happy hour. It's only a short 90min drive to the most famous velodrome in the whole world.

      We've booked the same seats as 2018. When we first walked I thought there must be a mistake. Our seats are literally on the finish line. You've got a big screen, cheese (because you're in France) and of course liquid refreshments to enjoy. I will never ever forget Peter Sagan winning in 2018. He crossed the line only 5 metres from where we were sitting. Same again please, Peter.

      Tonight we'll pop in to Lille for Dinner.

      Meals included - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
      Hotel - Lille


      Back to Belgium and all Good things Must Come to an End

      Last 2 days of our cycling tour - let's make it count

      Day 13, Monday 13 April

      Our last full day on tour

      We really want to finish with a nice bike ride. Which is why we've targeted a quiet country area of Belgium to spend our last night. Rather than at the airport.

      We spend the day in the Brabantse Pijl region. Which is only about 30km away from the big city of Brussels but literally could be on the other side of the country. The ride will be around the 50km mark. This afternoon we pack down the bikes. Our French guides leave us. Job well done. Thanks guys.

      Team Mac - A visit to Leuven, with the grandious Town Hall, and the home to many unique and beautiful buildings that surround this Grand Square. Often described as "gothic intimacy" with gorgeous buildings at every corner.

      We've planned something special for our last night. A dinner in the town of Leuven. Let's celebrate what a fantastic two weeks we've spent together. We'll even crack open some champagne. Oh, and eat chocolate and chips.

      Meals included - Breakfast and farewell Dinner
      Hotel - Brabantse Pijl region


      Day 14, Tuesday 14 April

      Time to say au revoir

      Our tour finishes after breakfast. We will transfer you to the airport at about 10am. For some it's time to head home, while others will take some time in Brussels or head off to explore other parts of Europe.

      Thank you for joining us on the adventure of a life time.

      Safe travels for the remainder of your journey.





       

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