Distances68 - 110 km
Houffa Gravel has been organized for the first time in 2021 in Houffalize, the city which is wellknown for many years of UCI Mountainbike World Cups. The gravel race is held on the less technical side of the city on more accessible rolling hills and beautiful landscapes.
The course winds around the famous mountainbike city of Houffalize, starting from the main square in the city center. The steepest climb of the days follows directly after the start with the famous Rue du Saint Roch, one of the steep road climbs during Liège Bastogne Liège. The first gravel section follows after 1.6km. 80% of the route is offroad.
The eastern first part of the course is challenging on rolling hills but wide open gravel roads with from time to time a longer uphill section. The sector in between km 27 and 33 is hard with additional difficult parts around km 50 and km 73.
The shorter 68km distance follows exactly the same routes to make a shortcut after 66km to turn left where the 110km long distances starts a second southern loop with less vertical elevation.
official qualifier distance for men 60+ and women 50+
official qualifier distance for men 19-59 and women 19-49
The profile of the qualifier event is a route that has a lot of rolling hills that are sometimes steep. Both distances start in the city center of Houffalize which is located in the valley of the Ourthe river and one of the lowest points of the course. The start has immediately the very steep Rue du Saint Roch directly after the start. This hill is 1km long and has an average gradient of 10.8 with parts up to 16% in the beginning. It is here that most of the pack will quickly be split in different smaller groups.
The highest point is reached in the most northern part of the course after 52km at an elevation of 590m. Lowest point is after 72km where the Ourthe river is crossed at an elevation of 309m. Total elevation for the long 110km distance is 1560m while the shorter 68km route has an elevation of 970m. Finish is again in the city center in the valley after a downhill towards the finish.
The city of Houffalize in the South Eastern part of Belgium is located next to Luxemburg and has just over 5000 inhabitants. It is considered as the capital city of mountainbike in Belgium but has also nice courses for gravel riding and racing.
The picturesque center is located in a small valley next to the Ourthe river and also hosts the first climb of the yearly Liège Bastogne Liège classic with the steep Rue Saint Roch and often also hosts the finish of the mountain stage in the Benelux World Tour stage race.
In the second world war, the battle of the Bulge, one of the very decisive moments at the end of the war was fought in Houffalize and surrounding villages. A Panther tank monument has been installed in the city center to remember this period. It’s here that generals Patton and Montgomery met to start their counter attack against German forces in January 1945.
Houffalize is also the hometown of the La Chouffe Beer with its brewery in the small neighbouring town of Achouffe.