The Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB paracyclist has given us an exclusive peek at his bike route in the Three Borders region, with a departure and arrival at Blegny-Mine. Discover his advice tinged with pure Liegeois humour and get on your bikes with the Ardennes-étape Cycling Club on Strava!
It's time to dust off your two-wheeler. Make the Ardennes your playground, book the holiday home of your dreams and come and ride in the tracks of five Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB pro riders! This week, the racing paracyclist Thibaud Thomanne shares his bike route exclusively with the Ardennes-étape Cycling Club on Strava! Come to the Three Borders region for a departure in Blegny. Ready for a 92 km loop with a 1,400 m elevation gain? Off we go!
Profile of Thibaud Thomanne - A Belgian disabled sports champion, this 28-year-old Liegeois paracyclist is an expert in road racing and time trials. Thibaud came 12th in the road race for the Para-cycling World Championships in 2019 AND 2021. He also came 19th in the time trial in the same world championship in 2019. His talent matches his ambition and we can’t wait to follow his route!
A very personal bike ride in the Three Borders region
Thibaud has put together a route inspired by his personal life. “We start in Blegny, my family’s village, crossing to Warsage where I now live and the Fourons, where I also have family. And from there, we’re off on some great roads!”
The racer finds this ride “very interesting because there’s a bit of everything and we avoid major roads, at least, we’re not on them for 5 km at a stretch.”
“We go up and down some lovely hills which are easy to cover and to some beautiful places with superb views! We also go through the Fourons, Holland, a place that’s clearly for cyclists, and small villages like Epen and then the Three Borders before coming back through a few German-speaking villages, riding up to Henri-Chapelle and Thimister then returning to Val Dieu Valley and coming back through Dalhem on a lovely cobbled hill.”
“We start in Blegny-Mine. We’re deliberately starting from a legendary place (the site is listed as UNESCO world heritage) and many races or hikes have begun there. Also, it’s the starting point for the 2022 Flèche Wallonne!"
From there, we’re off for “92 km of pure pleasure where we’ll find a point of no return steeped in history: the Three Borders region.”
A bike ride full of challenges
Thibaud has regularly ridden on the route in his training. “I think I’ve been through some places so many times, you could probably find my DNA there!”
And you’ll soon understand why he sweated so much! “From the beginning, I’m not going to go easy on you, with a small climb at km 1 that will get your legs going to then descend to Mortier, where I lived as a teenager, near Val Dieu Valley.”
Don’t give up (too soon)! “We’re not missing any stages! You’ll have to wait ’til you get back for a nice Val Dieu lager! Before, we’ll take on a lovely hill in Les Waides. This climb is in two or maybe three stages: first a gentle climb before going back down and getting into the swing with a winding part then tackling the steeper part. When you get to the tree, rest at ease, it’s behind you... so turn around to admire the view over the Pays de Herve... This place is beautiful!”
And yes, there are challenges. But rewards too!
After this panoramic break, it gets even better. “We start a descent through Warsage, the village where I was born. It's a beautiful descent with an unobstructed view, so enjoy it!” Then, towards the Fourons. “We cross the language border before climbing to Ulvend at km 23. Above, at km 25, there’s an ice cream parlour that also makes good crêpes, for foodies!”
A sip of water and off we go again! “We head to Beusdael wood. At the peak, we have a magnificent view of a castle. At km 33.7, we cross the Dutch border and head to the Three Borders with two hills on the programme. They're steady, so ideal for a patch where we have to keep up the throttle for a while, and at a certain pace, it’s pleasant. And also, we always come across cyclists there and it’s so satisfying to overtake them. It always makes me feel confident to say ‘OK, I have a disability but I can also climb as fast or even faster than an able person’.”
Three countries in three seconds
“At km 48.4, here we are! We’re up high at Three Borders. For those who want a bit of fun, cycle round the marker and in three seconds you’ll go through three countries!”
The Three Markers monument is the start of the return journey. “We go down to the German-speaking side of our beautiful country, where we’ll climb to Henri-Chapelle for a few kilometres but there's nothing to be afraid of!”
Again, the racer makes the effort a pleasure. “It’s a long stretch but it’s worth getting to the top because once again we have a magnificent view over the Pays de Herve.”
Then, Thibaud provides a key section for practice. “At km 72, we start on a descent into La Berwine Valley at Val Dieu - you could say it’s the key practice route - it’s perfect for all training, whether on the semi-flat downhill for a little speed, or the semi-flat uphill to keep your heart rate up from start to finish. It’s also ideal for sprints and as a group, with mates - it’s great because you can easily swap around in the group and get a kick.”
After this section, keep up the effort! “You still have to keep pedalling because we’re coming to the end with a stretch though the old town of Dalhem, with a small cobbled hill at km 88 to then return to Blegny-Mine.”
What’s the moral of the story? “This route has no traps, these are lovely hills that you can take on easily - we’re not in the Alps!”
“This world is wonderful, get on your bike and discover it!”
Discover the GPX file on our Strava club
The complete route is available on the Strava club of Ardennes-étape.
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