The very first edition of the Gravel Fondo Limburg was sold out in a few weeks as more than 1000 riders had signed up.
From a female side, Tessa Neefjes is the favorite after her victories in Millau and Houffalize last year with German Jade Treffeisen, fourth at last year’s worlds as her main competitor. And how about Martha Maltha, reigning Gran Fondo World Champion in the F35-39 age group or former Belgian cyclocross champion Joyce Vanderbeken?
It’s not so clear who will win the men’s race with many topstars from different disciplines at the start: Sepp Vanmarcke, Jonas Rickaert, Jens Debusschere will battle with gravel specialists Jasper Ockeloen and Laurens Ten Dam, but also cyclocross riders David van der Poel, Daan Soete, Cameron Mason and Corne Van Kessel are keen to win. And how about former pro riders Jan Bakelants or Maarten Wijnants?
The race starts from the Shimano Experience Centre for a first steep kilometre on the Cauberg before entering a 34km local loop which needs to be done three times totaling 113km and 1240m of elevation. Men over 60 and women over 50 qualify over 2 loops or a 79km distance.
The Schinderweg is a rolling gravel climb during each lap, but also the Keutenberg will feature three times during the race with a U-turn before entering the steep climb which will be done on the road. The rest of the lap is a mix of shorter paved sections and gravel sections in the middle of the beautiful Limburg landscape.
The top 25% per age group qualifies for the UCI Gravel World Championships in Italy in October.