Forgotten cobblestone roads in Belgium

Only recently and after a research into the Tour de France passage in Belgium territory I discovered the past existance and apparently use in cycling races with high logistic requirements of cobblestones sectors of long distance and above all with a plain profile, obviously different from those which are associated with Belgium and with more resemblance with the ones in northern France . These were part of Wallonie and to my knowledge were not used in recent Tour of Wallone editions.
I support this on collected informations about the 5th stage of the 1980 TdF. The stage started in Liége, passed in Wallonie, ended in Lille and had at least 17km of cobblestones roads.
The position and the aproximate distance of the sectors in the stage are the following:
Km. 200 Sector - 5km
Km. 205 Sector - 1km
Km. 207 Sector - 2km
Km. 211 Sector - 2,4km
Km. 214 Sector - 1,8km
Km. 217 Sector
Km. 225 FRANCE
Km. 230 Sector - 2km
Km. 232 Sector - 2,2km
Km. 235 Sector - 1km
Km 249 Lille - finish

I look to know if anyone has any informations about the identity of the roads, if they still exist and are or not used in competition.
 
Re:

hazaran said:
Have you been to Belgium? It's basically all forgotten cobblestone roads.
So it would be difficult to identify the places used in this stage without further details?
I know the Fleche-Wallone didn't always have the same route. Do you know if cobblestone sectors were also used in the race?
 
Oct 23, 2011
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I can't necessarily help you finding these specific cobbled sectors with just this information. There are however many cobbled roads in different parts of Belgium which could potentially used by races and actually which are used in races (e.g. Le Samyn, Dwars Door Het Hageland, Tryptique des Monts et Châteaux and even more races all use (flat) cobbled roads outside of the familiar ones in the Flemish Ardennes).
 
Given that particular stage dates from 1980, it's safe to assume most of those cobbled roads are now tarmaced over or replaced by asphalt or concrete roads. There are, however, still many cobbled farm roads in Walloon Brabant (the region a bit south-southest of Brussels) and Hainault (especially between Mons and Charleroi) the are comparable to the worst what Paris-Roubaix has on offer. Even the north of France has enough cobbled roads to create another Paris-Roubaix without using any of the current cobble sectors.
 
There are cobblestones everywhere in West-Flandres aswell, you just have to find them. And yeah it's right that most roads are tarmaced over or the stones were even taken from the roads and dumped somewhere in a field and used by people to construct driveways (guilty :cool: )
Honestly if you will look for those sectors you're bound to have a difficult time.
 
Oct 23, 2011
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rghysens said:
Given that particular stage dates from 1980, it's safe to assume most of those cobbled roads are now tarmaced over or replaced by asphalt or concrete roads. There are, however, still many cobbled farm roads in Walloon Brabant (the region a bit south-southest of Brussels) and Hainault (especially between Mons and Charleroi) the are comparable to the worst what Paris-Roubaix has on offer. Even the north of France has enough cobbled roads to create another Paris-Roubaix without using any of the current cobble sectors.
Yeah the south of Flemish Brabant and Walloon Brabant have plenty of cobbled roads and you could make a very nice race in that area mixing up flat cobbled roads and hills. Some of those cobbled roads in Flemish Brabant are used in Dwars Door het Hageland nowadays, but that race focuses more on dirt roads. You could well design a difficult cobbled race focusing on flat cobbled roads finishing in Leuven or somewhere around there.

Please Belgians get over your squabbles, unite Brabant and have an awesome route for Brabantse Pijl/Flèche Brabançonne using cobbles and hills (and cobbled hills) from both Flemish and Walloon Brabant. #Makebrabantgreatagain :p
 
Love this thread. I was checking out Belgium for a while and thankfully streetview is quite extensive there. There are still however some bigger blank spaces, so some of the sectors could be hidden there. For now i recommend the municipality/group of villages called Lasne. Some of the sectors look quite rough, but i'm no specialist on categorising them, so you need to look them up yourself. Also, some of the streets i've listed are only partly cobbled. For now these are the sectors i managed to find. It's possible this list will be edited in the future.

Name of the street, Municipality/Village:
1. Chemin du Gros Tienne, Lasne/La Hulpe
2. Chemin de la Ferme Rose, Lasne/La Hulpe
3. Chemin du Grand Bois, Lasne/Hannosnart
4. Chemin de Chaubrire, Lasne/Ohain
5. Chemin des Vieux Amis, Lasne/Ohain
6. Chemin de Bas Ransbeck, Lasne/Ohain
7. Chemin du Catty, Lasne/Ohain
8. Chemin du Bois Magonette, Lasne/Ohain
9. Rue du Moulin, La Hulpe/Gaillemarde
10. Chemin des Messes, Lasne/Ransbèche
11. Chemin du Mont, Lasne/Ransbèche
12. Chemin du Mont-Lassy, Lasne/Ransbèche
13. Clé des Champs, Lasne/Ransbèche
14. Bois Héros, Lasne/Marache
15. Chemin de l'Alouette, Lasne/Marache
16. Chemin de la Sablonnière, Lasne/Marache
17. Rue des Prairies, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve/Pinchart
18. Tienne de Renival, Lasne
19. Tienne Saint-Roch, Lasne/Chapelle-Saint-Lambert
20. Chemin du Pêque, Lasne/Ohain

Thankfully Laisne is neighboring with Wavre and Waterloo, so finding a good finishing place shouldn't be hard.
 
Oct 23, 2011
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railxmig said:
Love this thread. I was checking out Belgium for a while and thankfully streetview is quite extensive there. There are still however some bigger blank spaces, so some of the sectors could be hidden there. For now i recommend the municipality/group of villages called Lasne. Some of the sectors look quite rough, but i'm no specialist on categorising them, so you need to look them up yourself. Also, some of the streets i've listed are only partly cobbled. For now these are the sectors i managed to find. It's possible this list will be edited in the future.

Name of the street, Municipality/Village:
1. Chemin du Gros Tienne, Lasne/La Hulpe
2. Chemin de la Ferme Rose, Lasne/La Hulpe
3. Chemin du Grand Bois, Lasne/Hannosnart
4. Chemin de Chaubrire, Lasne/Ohain
5. Chemin des Vieux Amis, Lasne/Ohain
6. Chemin de Bas Ransbeck, Lasne/Ohain
7. Chemin du Catty, Lasne/Ohain
8. Chemin du Bois Magonette, Lasne/Ohain
9. Rue du Moulin, La Hulpe/Gaillemarde
10. Chemin des Messes, Lasne/Ransbèche
11. Chemin du Mont, Lasne/Ransbèche
12. Chemin du Mont-Lassy, Lasne/Ransbèche
13. Clé des Champs, Lasne/Ransbèche
14. Bois Héros, Lasne/Marache
15. Chemin de l'Alouette, Lasne/Marache
16. Chemin de la Sablonnière, Lasne/Marache
17. Rue des Prairies, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve/Pinchart
18. Tienne de Renival, Lasne
19. Tienne Saint-Roch, Lasne/Chapelle-Saint-Lambert
20. Chemin du Pêque, Lasne/Ohain

Thankfully Laisne is neighboring with Wavre and Waterloo, so finding a good finishing place shouldn't be hard.
Wow I actually knew a couple of these, but you actually have twenty of them! :eek:

Also, you can add Rue de Fichermont, Rue Bois Paris, Route d'Ottignies, Rue de l'Eglise Saint-Etienne and Place Communale to your list; five more roads which are (partially) cobbled in the Lasne/Ohain area. :p

Trying to design the best race in this area can be a bit of a challenge; because of the close proximity of all these roads, putting them all in is kind of difficult even if you're going full AGR. Also, you probably want to avoid descents on cobbles if you want to design a realistic stage, which limits your ability to link them all up even further.
 
Maaaaaaaarten said:
Please Belgians get over your squabbles, unite Brabant and have an awesome route for Brabantse Pijl/Flèche Brabançonne using cobbles and hills (and cobbled hills) from both Flemish and Walloon Brabant. #Makebrabantgreatagain :p
If only that could be. I think I told you that Brabant was united as a province until 1993. I still have recollections of the split up. Not sure that the Brabantian Arrow crossed present-day Walloon Brabant back then though.


GenericBoonenFan said:
Iirc, we (belgium) once designed a euro coin with the statue of Waterloo on the back, they had to be destroyed because the french didn't like them. I wonder why?
Yes. I also wonder why because Buonaparte did a lot of harm to the French people. I would be grateful to Wellington if I were French, just like I'm grateful to the Swiss for slaying Charles the Bold.

Anyway, I found some decent cobbled sections in Watermael-Boitsfort/Bosvoorde, the other day. That is on the outskirts of Brussels close to where I live.

The Drève de la Bonne odeur and the uphill Rue du Rouge-Gorge (which is sadly but a few hundred meters long. It can be longer but then it leads to some strade bianche.)



But the best section I've found was in Northern France, the Chemin des Bas-Prés, extended by the Rue Crespin and then the Rue Voltaire (awful name, though), all near Vicq.

 
Echoes said:
If only that could be. I think I told you that Brabant was united as a province until 1993. I still have recollections of the split up. Not sure that the Brabantian Arrow crossed present-day Walloon Brabant back then though.
Definitely. It finished in alsemberg back then, and before entering the local laps with Bruineput and Alsemberg, the course crossed Walloon Brabant for a while.

For those with an inerest in Northern French cobbled roads: https://legruppetto.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=1764 gives us some maps drawn by les amis de Paris-Roubaix, the non-profit organisation responsible for the maintainance of the cobbled roads in everyone's favourite classic. Red are "strategic important" roads, green are "other" cobbled sectors, not necessarily of abominable quality.
 
jfazendeiro said:
Only recently and after a research into the Tour de France passage in Belgium territory I discovered the past existance and apparently use in cycling races with high logistic requirements of cobblestones sectors of long distance and above all with a plain profile, obviously different from those which are associated with Belgium and with more resemblance with the ones in northern France . These were part of Wallonie and to my knowledge were not used in recent Tour of Wallone editions.
I support this on collected informations about the 5th stage of the 1980 TdF. The stage started in Liége, passed in Wallonie, ended in Lille and had at least 17km of cobblestones roads.
The position and the aproximate distance of the sectors in the stage are the following:
Km. 200 Sector - 5km
Km. 205 Sector - 1km
Km. 207 Sector - 2km
Km. 211 Sector - 2,4km
Km. 214 Sector - 1,8km
Km. 217 Sector
Km. 225 FRANCE
Km. 230 Sector - 2km
Km. 232 Sector - 2,2km
Km. 235 Sector - 1km
Km 249 Lille - finish

I look to know if anyone has any informations about the identity of the roads, if they still exist and are or not used in competition.
There is a little bit of information about the french sectors.

Un vent de ¾ face à décorner les bœufs, une pluie froide quasiment incessante, un enfer pavé échelonné sur 42 km, dont 19,5 sur de très mauvaises sentes, des lieux mythiques (Camphin-en-Pévèle ; Carrefour de l’Arbre) en guise d’apothéose. On se croirait revenu au mois d’avril lorsque Moser s’était imposé à Roubaix, Hinault terminant 4ème à plus de 6’.


From the given itinerary it is possible that they went north from Pommerœul. Pommerœul is near the border and came at kilometer 150. I know that in this border region, there a still some sectors, but I'm not sure, which have been in the TdF stage of 1980. Also funny that Merckx talks about it being a stage for sprinters. :lol:

This interactive map doesn't help with 1980, but with your question. -> https://www.la-flamme-rouge.eu/maps/tracks/maps/3

Here we have a map, that shows some sectors in Belgium as well.

Edit: Well...the itinerary I posted states 236,5 km, jfazendeiro has information about 249 km and in the footage of the stage it's 263,5 km. -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oyh0K1dE4Zc

https://reader.paperc.com/books/etape/308680/Chapter02
 
Oct 23, 2011
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Yeah the Moskesstraat is really nice. IIRC the road gets very narrow near the end and the cobbles are in a terrible condition, but I don't think either of those is quite bad enough to make it unsuitable for a race. If they get an Overijse circuit with Smysberg and Moskesstraat, all the locals will be very happy!

You could make a great race causing some mayhem around Wavre on the cobbled roads in the middle part of the race and then having a few hills (which may or may not be cobbled) around Overijse. It would create an interesting racing dynamic. Kind of the opposite of Omloop. Omloop typically causes the main selection in the hilly zone and then has the finale on flat cobbled roads, whereas such a race would cause the main selection on the cobbles in Walloon Brabant and then have the finale on the hills around Overijse.
 
Re:

Maaaaaaaarten said:
Yeah the Moskesstraat is really nice. IIRC the road gets very narrow near the end and the cobbles are in a terrible condition, but I don't think either of those is quite bad enough to make it unsuitable for a race. If they get an Overijse circuit with Smysberg and Moskesstraat, all the locals will be very happy!

You could make a great race causing some mayhem around Wavre on the cobbled roads in the middle part of the race and then having a few hills (which may or may not be cobbled) around Overijse. It would create an interesting racing dynamic. Kind of the opposite of Omloop. Omloop typically causes the main selection in the hilly zone and then has the finale on flat cobbled roads, whereas such a race would cause the main selection on the cobbles in Walloon Brabant and then have the finale on the hills around Overijse.
Yeah that would be great. Moskesstraat is the only street I ever had to get off my bike, let's just say that picking the right gear beforehand is essential on those cobbles :razz: I love me some Smeysberg, althouh mixing it up with Stroobantsstraat instead would be a good thing too (as you could make the riders ride over the cobbles there). So much potential over there!

A personal favorite which I still have to climb someday is the Rue du Beau Site, 400 meters of nice cobblestones at 10%. Sure, it's not alf as though as a Koppenberg, but in that neighborhood it could be quite easy to link so many nice climbs together.
 
[quote="Max Rockatansky

Un vent de ¾ face à décorner les bœufs, une pluie froide quasiment incessante, un enfer pavé échelonné sur 42 km, dont 19,5 sur de très mauvaises sentes, des lieux mythiques (Camphin-en-Pévèle ; Carrefour de l’Arbre) en guise d’apothéose. On se croirait revenu au mois d’avril lorsque Moser s’était imposé à Roubaix, Hinault terminant 4ème à plus de 6’.


From the given itinerary it is possible that they went north from Pommerœul. Pommerœul is near the border and came at kilometer 150. I know that in this border region, there a still some sectors, but I'm not sure, which have been in the TdF stage of 1980. Also funny that Merckx talks about it being a stage for sprinters. :lol:

Edit: Well...the itinerary I posted states 236,5 km, jfazendeiro has information about 249 km and in the footage of the stage it's 263,5 km. -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oyh0K1dE4Zc[/quote]

I haven't felt well lately and that is the cause of my delayed answer. I thank very much for the post.
Both the magazine page and the website lagrandeboucle agree in the localities visited during the stage. This is the most reliable part of all the information and I decided to make of it the starting point.
About the point in the stage in which they are located, I have serious doubts. To give an example It isn't possible to connect Liége and Ronquieres, also visiting Wavre in such a small distance. The position of Ronquiéres in the stage can be rigth if existed a neutralized beggining in the stage but I have no knowledge of the practice at the time. This matters to discover the route till the first position and unify the informations about the position of the cobblestones sectors.

About these I have prioritazed the presentation of the stage in the RTF1 transmission. If Camphin-en-pévèle, Carrefour de l'Arbre and Gruson were part of the route, which I think it happened, the distances associated with the sectors aren't very accurate either but is still the source with more informations about the sectors.
RTF says there were only 3 sectors in France territory and the website lagrandeboucle mentions those three. They account for 5,4km.
I also located the entrance in France through Sartaigne beliving that Camphin-en-pévèle was the first french sector and that they had made already 5km in France.
The other sector also mentioned anywhere is Bléhires. I found the Chemin de Bléhires. It has cobblestones but much less than I believe it had in 1980. Today is a well asphalted road and funnily, without motive, in the middle of this long straight road appears 20m of sections larger than the road itself with cobblestones.
The website says it was the 2nd sector in the race but this isn't possible. This chemin is very near the border with France and already closer to Lille than the Parc Scarpe-Escaut. Beetwen this place and Lille there weren't 40km of cobblestones and the map you posted does not show an inversion of route to the Parc. There other chemins nearby, already asphalted but with the same evidences that I believe were used.

Overall with the map I believe that more than 30 of the 42 km of this roads were not only in Wallone but also with some distance from the border.

For now this is what I fell secure about the stage details:
Stage Liége-Lille
Borgworm
Hannut
Jodoigne
Wavre
Ronquières 106,5 km (mag. post and lgb website)
Baudour
Pommeroeu
Bléhires, Brunehaut 2km long
FRANCE - Sartaigne if RTF1 distances are right and Camphin is 1st sector
Camphin-en-Pévèle 1,8km
Carrefour de l'Arbre 2,1km
Gruson 1,1km
Lille (bothanic garden)
Lille

I have contacted L'equipe asking for the edition of the day of thd stage. I haven't received an answer and later discovered that it isn't free to check the archives.
 
He withdrew with a knee problem a few days later.

Many of those old cobblestone roads have been asphalted in the 80s and 90s. Sectors like those in the Flemish spring classics have a protected status. I don't think there are that many alternatives left, or the roads would be too narrow for a safe race.
 
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