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Challenge Geraardsbergen in words and pictures

Belgian race includes one of cycling’s most famous climbs

Photo by: Jose Luis Hourcade

The Challenge Family race series has very little exposure in North America (Challenge North America is now Clash-USA), but over in Europe the race series is very popular. This weekend’s Challenge Geraardsbergen featured a strong pro field that took on one of cycling’s most prestigious climbs, “Le Muur,” which is often one of the key climbs in the Tour of Flanders and other major Belgium cycling races.

The exciting day of racing saw France’s Antony Costes and The Netherlands’ Diede Diederiks take the wins. We look back at the exciting weekend of racing through these great photos by Jose-Luis Hourcade.

“From the start in the swim it was a hectic race, the pace was very high,” said Costes after his win. “With the heat I knew there was going to be some trouble for some at the end of the race, so I tried to save some energy, but it was very difficult because the Muur, it was all out whatever you do just to get to the top! You don’t feel the effort during the climb as there is so much energy and screaming, but afterwards, you struggle to recover! It was a nice battle with Pieter (Heemeryck) on the run and on the second uphill I managed to put in some time and keep the gas on to the finish. I really loved it!”

“It was a really tough day,” said Diederiks of her win. “And it seemed like sort of an Xterra as there were some off-road parts in the run and of course the cobblestones on the Muur and a lot of climbing, so it was harder than I thought. But, it was a great race. I chose this race as I’ve wanted to race here for three years and it’s great to win!”

For full results, click here.

The pro women get ready to head off. Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade
The men are off. Jose Luis Hourcade
France’s Antony Costes stayed in the hunt on the bike. Jose Luis Hourcade
Heading up the famous “Muur” – a 1 km climb at 7.8%. Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade
Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade
Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade
Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade
As if the climbs aren’t hard enough, you also have to deal with cobblestones! Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade
Diede Diederiks rode clear on the bike and stayed ahead through the run to take the women’s win. Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade
Costes broke clear during the final 5 km of the run. Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade
Costes takes the win. Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade
Diede Diederiks takes the win. Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade
Celebrating on the podium: Diederiks, Alexandra Tondeur (second), Jenny Jendryschik (third), Costes, Heemeryck (second) and Milan Brons (third). Photo: Jose Luis Hourcade.