The month of May is traditionally a turning point for road cycling in Europe. Summer is just around the corner and the spring classics are all done and dusted, riders have packed away their winter gloves and Belgian booties and are looking forwards to a summer of stage racing and Grand Tours.
It’s not just the roadies that are happy to get the summer stage races under their wheels. Many Belgian and Dutch mountain bikers have spent the early months of the season riding and racing their road bikes to gain a solid basic fitness and prepare for one of their main goals for the season; the Belgian Mountain bike Challenge or BeMC.
The BeMC is arguably one of the best organised mountain bike events in the Low Countries. It is a three day stages race located in La Roche-en-Ardenne, one of the most picturesque towns in the Belgian Ardennes region, dominated by a ruined medieval castle dating back to the 9th century. All stages start and finish in the town, something that is very much appreciated by most riders and makes the logistics of stage racing much less complicated.
The organisers proud themselves with calling the race the Hardest Mountain Bike Tour in the BeNeLux (a term used to describe Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg). The total distance over three stages is nearly 250 kilometres with over 7500 meters elevation.
Crocodile Trophy stage winner Mike Mulkens has raced the Belgian Mountain Bike Challenge before and this is what he has to say about it: “The BeMC is one of the hardest races I have ever ridden, the never ending sequence of short but steep climbs takes more out of your legs than riding up a mountain in the Alps. The race is on the UCI stage racing calendar as a UCI XCS S2 event and this brings many big names to the start line. All the Belgian, Dutch and Luxemburg top riders are there, including some of the top cyclo cross riders of the Telenet-Fidea CX team. Despite all this, I really enjoyed racing at the BeMC in previous editions and managed to hold on the the point classification leader jersey for a few stages in the 2012 edition. Kudos to the organizers for putting up a great event and inspiring riders to come back year after year.”
The 2014 edition of the Belgian Mountain bike Challenge is taking place in La Roche-en-Ardenne from the 16th to the 18th of May.
More information can be found on the BeMC English version website.