Experience the excitement of the Spring Classics, meet a team and enjoy the local areas and culture, all in the capable hands of our trip manager Jacinta. A brilliant 10 days offering the best of Belgium and France, with the best guide in town!
Welcome to Belgium
Your guide Jacinta will meet you at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and we’ll head to our Hotel in Ghent by private transfer. A welcome lunch will give you the chance to meet your fellow cycling fans and we’ll run through the plans for the next exciting 9 days.
After lunch we’ll take a tour of Ghent - Belgium’s fourth largest and most beautiful city is home to a flourishing flower export trade. An important port, Ghent’s city center is a pedestrian area that is a museum to early Flemish architecture and a testament to the city’s medieval might. Impressive Gothic sites, such as the dramatic St. Bavo’s Cathedral and the Castle of the Counts, inspire awe.
The best way to see this amazing area is by boat! We’ve booked a 60 minute cruise around the historical heart of Ghent. We’ll take an early dinner in the hotel so you can get rested for the amazing dream packed days ahead!
LIVE RACE VIEWING - Tour of Flanders
VIP viewing on Oude Kwaremont
Are you ready? This is going to be an amazing day! We’ll start by driving to Oudenaarde, where the race finishes. We’ll take a VIP shuttle to our VIP viewing point on the summit of Oude Kwaremont.
We’ll be welcomed by the race hostess and a champagne reception and snacks. Thomson Spectator Tours will have our own personalized tables & seating, where we can take our buffet lunch.
Our VIP area puts us squarely in the centre of the race with a unique view of the cobblestones. There’s live TV coverage of the race and plenty of entertainment, an open bar and plenty of viewing of this epic race!
We’ll watch the Elite Women’s race pass and will have a front row seat, not once, not twice, but three times, as the Men’s Elite riders pass through. Witness at first hand the sweat & tears on their faces. We’ll watch the finish on giant TV screens, have a live music reception before we are shuttled back to Oudenaarde and take our transport back to the hotel. An epic experience that you don’t want to miss!
Team Hotel Visit
We’ll have a later start today and head to one of the team hotels. We’ll be able to see the mechanics prepping the bikes, chat to them, take photos and get an insiders view on the day-to-day running of a team. Thomson Spectator Tours are known to many teams and have many friends in the peloton, so can get you access like no one else can. Seeing the bikes up close and personal , hearing info on what the cyclists eat, their daily routines and schedules, is a great insight into this pro sport. We’re sure Jacinta can work her magic and get you to meet some of the cyclists.
We’ll head back to our hotel after lunch where you will get a few hours free time. You could hire a bike from the hotel to cycle along the river and look around the town or just chill in the gardens.
Today we travel like locals and take the train into Brussels South Station. Jacinta will walk you to the Grand Place, which is considered one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Europe, where many historic buildings dating from the 17th century are located.
This is where the Grand Depart of the 2019 Tour de France will host its team presentation and the first 2 stages of the iconic race. We’ll check out Grand Palais where the Team Time Trial of Stage 2 departs, so you can get a good idea what’s in store for July.
You will have a couple of hours to explore the city, we’ll provide information on the amazing things to see, before we head back to Ghent on the train.
LIVE RACE VIEWING - Scheldeprijs
We’re back on the race circuit and heading to watch the Scheldeprijs! The oldest of the Flanders classics is gradually gaining more recognition.
Teams taking part in Flanders and Paris Roubaix will be taking part in this race too. We’ll head over to Schoten late morning and soak up the atmosphere in the arrival town. We will have access to the VIP finish from 4pm and we’ll attend the arrival in the Martougin-Club near the finish line. There’s live TV broadcast of the race to follow on big screens before the race passes in front of us and you see the sprinters gunning for glory! Kittel has won this 5 times! After the end of the race there’s an extensive reception with live music in the VIP tent, near the castle in Schoten.
A real local’s day out in this beautiful municipality of Antwerp.
Flanders Museum, Menin Gate and travel to Lille, France
Today we’re heading to France with two amazing en route stops. First to Oudenaarde where we’ll visit the famous Flanders museum. The entrance hall has each winner’s name displayed on its own cobblestone, an excellent gift shop and the possibility of glimpsing Freddy Maertens, former world champion and rival to Eddy Merckx who now works at the museum. There’s heaps of memorabilia; from Eddy Merckx’s bike and Johan Museeuw’s Mapei jersey to a bust of Tommy Simpson and an old-school Flandria team car. A must see for cycling fans!
Our next stop will see us pay our respects to the fallen soldiers of World War I. 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…
Finally we say goodbye to Belgium and Bonjour to France!
Roubaix Recon, Facts & Velodrome
Today we’ll head as near to the end of the Forest of Arenberg as the coach allows and we’ll see if we can catch any of the pro teams coming by on their recon rides. We’ll show you some key parts of the course before heading to the Velodrome in Roubaix. We’ll check out the Velodrome, try and get access to the famous showers and you can visit the gift shop to buy memorabilia. It will be great to see the velodrome before we head back in 2 days for a very different experience!
We head back into Belgium to visit its most stunning city - Bruges. Gorgeous Bruges is a tourist’s dream. This is Belgium’s most perfectly preserved medieval town, and its’ jaw-dropping, beautiful architecture attracts more than two million visitors a year With its’ wealth of interesting old buildings and canals, Bruges still retains a distinct medieval air. Take a walk through the narrow streets or a boat trip on the canal and fall under its’ spell, charmed by the atmosphere of what many consider the most delightful city of Flanders.
LIVE RACE VIEWING - Paris-Roubaix
VIP Start & Velodrome Finish
Could you even think of a better final full day than this?
You’ve seen them on the cobbles. You’ve seen them battle it out in Schoten and now you’re going to watch the legendary Paris Roubaix!
We’ll leave early and drive to the start where we will have breakfast in a VIP lounge and have access to the exclusive team warm-up and sign-on area!
Watch the bikes been prepped, the cyclists warming up and passing by inches from you, as crowds stand behind barriers and you’re in the paddock with the teams. A spectators favourite!
As the riders head off we’ll get in our private vehicle with its VIP sticker, allowing us to drive on the closed race roads. We’ll have a mid-race stop to watch the cyclists come past and lunch, then we’ll head up to the velodrome.
In our VIP Classics Club we can watch the race on giant screens, enjoy the free canapés, and open bar and get ready to see the cyclists as they head into the velodrome. To top it all off you will receive a free Paris - Roubaix handbook.
Until next time…
After this epic tour its time to head back to Charles de Gaulle airport, your guide will accompany you on the short TGV journey from Lille, that takes you right into the airport.