Spring Classics & WW1 Centenary Commemoration

29 March to 11 April 2018 | SOLD OUT

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Not to be missed. We all know about the Spring Classics. Enough said - 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. In 2018 it will have been a hundred years since the Anzac Cyclists saw action in Europe. Official celebrations are planned and we will be there.

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

There will be a choice of two rides daily - 60 and 100km plus; and we also welcome non-riders to join us. And a highlight of this trip will be the chance to ride both the Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders Sportives.

Day 1, Thursday 29 March

Welcome to the home of cycling

On arrival in Brussels you are more likely to be asked what sort of bike you own than for your passport. Ahhh, an Eddie Merckx 525 disc would be the wise answer and is guaranteed to get you through customs a bit quicker.

Today is easy, our hotel is located at the airport. Arrive early afternoon and then we’ll put all the bikes together. Tonight we sit down to a fantastic Belgian feast, supplemented by Belgian beer and unlimited Guylian chocolates. This trip is no weight-loss program. We’ll introduce the team and talk through the next two weeks. Spring Classics – here we come.

/ Meals included – Dinner
/ Hotel – Brussels

Day 2, Friday 30 March

It’s all about the cobbles.

We start with a tour highlight. Yes, after breakfast we load the bikes and 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.

This afternoon is all about getting on that bike for a leisurely ride of 50km. We’ll even find some cobbles to practice on (nice cobbles if such a thing exists).

One last thing to tick off today – and it’s a must. We visit Liefmans Brewery which is close to where we are staying in Oudenaarde. Liefmans is over 300 years old and we’re booked in to taste their wide range. It’s a tough job. Someone has to do it.

Tonight we dine at the hotel. Potentially our accommodation will also be home to a couple of the pro teams.

/ Meals included – Breakfast and Dinner
/ Hotel - Oudenaarde

Day 3, Saturday 31 March

Tour of Flanders Sportive (fun ride)

Tomorrow sees the 102nd 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. Our recommendation would be the shorter distance as cobbles will still be a bit foreign to you. 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.

Oh, about those cobbles – for those not wanting to participate in the actual fondo then we will offer a social ride where you’ll get to cheer on your fellow team mates.

/ Meals included – Breakfast (Dinner own arrangements)
/ Hotel - Oudenaarde

Day 4, Sunday 01 April

Tour of Flanders Spring Classic. Boom.

Although not as tough as the Paris Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders isn’t far from it. You try and smash out 260km as fast as you can on cobbles, often without the support of your team mates. The RIDE holidays plan is to do as much as possible today. We’ll stretch the legs with a soft bike ride. I say soft as today is more about the event on offer and some legs will be tired after yesterday.

We’ll see the Ronde van Vlaanderen start, some of the middle section and then be at the finish line in plenty of time to see the pros come in to town. 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 some of the pro teams will be at the next table. “Cheers boys. How are the legs?”

/ Meals included – Breakfast and Dinner
/ Hotel - Oudenaarde

Day 5, Monday 02 April

B&B - Bruges and BMC

Today we head for the coast. Via velo. Yes, we’d like to get a long ride under our belts. Three figures for the majority although there will be shorter options on offer. The plan is to ride from the hotel to the UNESCO World Heritage City of 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.

After lunch we’ll visit Ghent for a city walk with a local guide, which will include a chocolate demonstration (tasting) and more importantly the world’s largest BMC concept store. Apparently, on arrival they soften your wallets with a welcome drink. Knowing Belgium it could quite possibly be a beer of 11%.

Seriously – what a great day… 100km plus on the road, Bruges, chocolate, beer and BMC. Amen.

/ Meals included – Breakfast and Dinner
/ Hotel - Oudenaarde

Day 6, Tuesday 03 April

Messines Ridge

We leave our Belgium home this morning and embark on the first of our WW1 ambitions.

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 8am and 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.

Today is important, and sobering. We visit Messines Ridge after first visiting the Mont Kemmel / Kemmelberg battlefield. Our visit is almost exactly 100 years since the 2nd Battle of Kemmelberg in April, 1918. The ANZAC cycle corps were involved at Kemmelberg and played a major role in the Battle of Messines which was June, 1917. There are a few fallen New Zealand and Australian cyclists buried and commemorated at Messines. We’ll be part of an official commemoration/wreath laying.

From Messines it’s a short 90km ride to our chateau. We plan on riding small country lanes. Maybe a few cobbles. See you in France. Oui oui.

/ Meals included – Breakfast and Dinner
/ Hotel - Cambrai

Day 7, Wednesday 04 April

We ride for 10 brave soldiers today

We’ll ride from our hotel and re-trace many of the roads that the Anzacs rode in WW1, stopping when we can to share the history. The plan is to ride as one tight group today. Distance will be in the 80 - 100km area, including a section where history tells us that the Anzacs held a 10km social road race during the war.

High on our list will be 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.

Plans are underway for New Zealand embassy staff from Paris to join us for an official service, hopefully including the local community and possibly a “vin d’honneur” at the local town hall.

Tonight we drive the short distance to Laon for dinner. A gorgeous hill top medieval city surrounded by 8 kilometres of walls and gates. The crowning glory being the Laon Cathedral, one of the earliest and greatest Gothic monuments in France.

/ Meals included – Breakfast (Dinner own arrangements)
/ Hotel – Chamoulle / Laon

Day 8, Thursday 05 April

Montagne de Reims Regional Park.

After 6 consecutive days of riding, maybe, just maybe we’ll feel like a day off. There’s certainly a lot in this area to keep us interested.

Nah – no day off. Let’s get on the bikes.

We’ll ride towards Épernay, a French town that gifted a fanion (banner) to the New Zealand cyclists for their role in stopping the Germans in their tracks. Then ride through endless vineyards on the way to Montagne de Reims Regional Park, stopping for a photo and tour of the Lighthouse of Verzenay. From the top its 360 degree views. What of? Champagne Vineyards. Speaking of vineyards – we’ll pick one of the more famous Grand Champagne Houses and pop in for a tasting or three.

This afternoon we visit Hautvillers for a short walk in 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.

This evening we dine in Reims. One of the most beautiful cities in France and capital city of the Champagne region. Tonight we’ll find a nice restaurant and raise a glass in honor of those 10 brave cyclists.

/ Meals included – Breakfast & Dinner included.
/ Hotel – Chamoulle / Laon

Day 9, Friday 06 April

Arras tunnels

After breakfast we’ll hop on the bikes and ride to the tunnels at Arras. The museum, visitors centre and tour thereafter is fantastic, and a uniquely NZ story.

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.

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.

Our home for the next three nights is Lille. 19km from our hotel is a certain famous velodrome. With a bit of luck late today we’ll get to check out the Roubaix Museum.

/ Meals included – Breakfast and Dinner
/ Hotel – Lille

Day 10, Saturday 07 April

Paris-Roubaix Sportive

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.

Tonight we dine together and discuss the plan for tomorrow. The pros will be anxious. And amongst them will be New Zealand’s own Jack Bauer.

/ Meals included – Breakfast and Dinner
/ Hotel – Lille

Day 11, Sunday 08 April

Paris - Roubaix Grandstand view

As a child I remember a few sporting highlights…. Borg vs McEnroe in the final of Wimbledon 1980, Lance Cairns hitting all those sixes in 1983, Bonecrusher in the 1986 Cox Plate etc etc…. One could easily pick a dozen or so Paris-Roubaix races and add them to the list. Maybe, just maybe it’s a New Zealander’s turn to walk away with a cobble stone. Can you imagine being there when that happens?

Today is 100% off the bike. We’ll hop on the bus and drive to the race start which is about 60km outside of Paris, about 150km from our hotel. On the way we will watch the famous movie - A Sunday in Hell. If we have time we’ll also put on the Russian Fly Fishing DVD. A classic and also a must watch.

We’ll then stop twice to see the race on a selected piece of cobble before rocking up to our V.I.P seats on the finish line in Roubaix.

Let’s set the scene – Jack Bauer has broken away and has 12km to go. The chasing pack are 49 seconds behind but not working well as a group. All the favourites crashed out early. It’s now Jack vs a handful of others including two Aussies. He’s hurting and it’s very stressful for us as we sip on our beer and watch the pain sketched all across his face. 6km to go. ‘C’mon Jack, by God he’s done it!’ Oh, those famous words. I wonder if they will be repeated today

/ Meals included – Breakfast (Dinner own arrangements)
/ Hotel – Lille

Day 12, Monday 09 April

Le Quesnoy

It would simply be impossible to ignore the historic importance of Le Quesnoy in North West France. 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.

It was the New Zealanders' last major action in the war. To this day, the town of Le Quesnoy continues to mark the important role that New Zealand played in its history. Streets are named after New Zealand places, there is a New Zealand memorial and a primary school bears the name of a New Zealand soldier.

Our plan today is simple. We’ll park the bus 80 to 100km away from Le Quesnoy and ride scenic country lanes and cycle trails in to town. On arrival we’ll be met by town officials who have offered to show us around as well as give us a history lesson that I’m sure will leave us proud to be Kiwis. We’ll then head to Paris for the final two nights on tour.

/ Meals included – Breakfast (Dinner own arrangements)
/ Hotel – Central Paris

Day 13, Tuesday 10 April

Arc de Triomphe

It’s an early start – we want to show you Paris prior to all the locals waking up. We cover about 15km which takes in all those magical Paris highlights. We ride the Champs-Élysées and check out the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and of course the Notre Dame. We finish at the Arc de Triomphe where we raise a glass of Champagne. What a fantastic two weeks we’ve just had. From the highs of Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders to the history of WW1. The scrapbook will be full.

The rest of the day is free – totally up to you. Pack up those bikes and then catch up with that last-minute shopping.

Tonight you are in for a treat. It’s important that we finish the trip with a highlight. The NZ embassy in Paris has invited us to be part of the daily flame ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe. Exactly the same ceremony that the All Blacks were a part of in November 2013.

That evening we’ll find a nice bar close to the Arc de Triomphe and enjoy a beer with some of the embassy staff, before our last dinner together.

/ Meals included – Breakfast and farewell Dinner
/ Hotel – Paris

Day 14, Wednesday 11 April

Our tour finishes after breakfast. For some it’s time to head home, while others will take some time in Paris or head off to explore other parts of Europe. Thank you for joining us on the adventure of a life time. Never to be repeated.

Safe travels for the remainder of your journey.

Enquire Now for 2020

Tour Highlights

  • Various official WW1 ANZAC Cycle corp commemorations and ceremonies
  • Messines Ridge, Arras Tunnels and of course - Le Quesnoy
  • Entry - Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix Sportive (70km and 140km options)
  • V.I.P access to the Paris Roubaix finish line
  • BMC concept store
  • Belgian Beer & Belgian Chocolate - enough said
  • Visit Ghent, Bruges and Reims (Champagne House tasting)
  • Ronde van Vlaanderen Center
  • Multiple ride options daily – targeting quiet country lanes

Tour Inclusions

  • 13 nights’ accommodation using quality 3 & 4* hotels
  • All breakfasts, 9 dinners and 2 lunches
  • Choice of 2 to 3 rides daily. 60, 80 and 100km plus.
  • GPS assistance & physical maps
  • 7 staff including mechanic, non-riding guide
  • Tips included for all European staff as well as meals included in the itinerary
  • Maximum group size 30 cyclists and 6 non-riders
  • Two vehicles – 48 seat coach and one smaller 9 seat van support
  • Souvenir booklet, itinerary included
  • RIDE Holidays cycling jersey and bibs, pants (special ANZAC WW1 version)

Entry fees for:

  • Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix Sportive
  • VIP finish line entry to Paris-Roubaix race
  • Local guides for a visit to Ghent & Bruges. As well as a boat trip in Bruges
  • BMC concept Tour
  • Entrance St. Baafs Cathedral Ghent & visit to the Mystic Lamb painting
  • Champagne, Beer and chocolate tasting

The Price Excludes

  • Airfares and extra accommodation
  • Travel Insurance - compulsory!
  • Meals, alcohol not indicated in itinerary

Tour Cost (per person, New Zealand Dollars)

NZD$ 8595.00 per person
NZD$ 1285.00 Single room supplement
NZD$ 700.00 Bike hire

Optional extra – for those who want a V.I.P package at the Tour of Flanders finish line then the additional cost is $490.00 per ticket.

Non Riders

We really encourage non-riding partners to join all our trips. We will put a plan in place daily so that you aren’t just watching the back of a bicycle. For this particular trip we will have Morgan looking after you. He will work in conjunction with our two Belgium staff. We will be finalising a detailed non-riding itinerary closer to departure. It’s important we find the right balance between non-riding attractions as well being able to participate in some of the Spring Classics / WW1 itinerary.

Enquire Now for 2020


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