Three reasons why you should watch Brabantse Pijl

Amid the Paris-Roubaix come-down and the Ardennes hype, De Brabantse Pijl can be easy to miss but here are three reasons why you shouldn't.

Photo: Nico Vereecken/Getty Images

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De Brabantse Pijl — which translates to the Brabant Arrow in English — is a peculiar race.

It often gets lost in the post Paris-Roubaix come-down and the hype for the Ardennes classics. Add into the mix the mid-week Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and it’s very easy for this Flemish one-day race to pass by without you even realising.

This race, however, is too good to miss. And the broadcast for both the men’s and women’s races is tomorrow, live on in both the U.S. and Canada.

Here are three reasons why you should tune in Wednesday to watch it.

Also read: A look at this week’s packed pro racing calendar

Wout van Aert and Annemiek van Vleuten

Both men’s and women’s races have some star contenders, but few are better than Annemiek van Vleuten and Wout van Aert.

Van Vleuten’s conversion rate has been exceptionally high so far this season, winning two of the four races she’s entered. After claiming her second De Ronde just over a week ago, the Dutchwoman is in commanding form and eyeing a strong run at the Ardennes. This will be her debut at the race under its current guise.

Unlike van Vleuten, van Aert is winding down the first part of his season after a busy start to the year. This is also his debut at the one-day race and his first test of form since his sixth place at the Tour of Flanders. He added the race to his calendar to give himself some extra racing following the cancellation of Paris-Roubaix.

While his usual arch-rivals won’t be in attendance on Wednesday, there will be plenty of foes for van Aert to battle.

Grace Brown soloed to victory to win the 2020 Brabantse Pijl
Grace Brown soloed to victory to win the 2020 Brabantse Pijl Photo: Mark Van Hecke/Getty Images

Cobbles and hills

De Brabantse Pijl is the meeting point between the cobbled classics and the Ardennes, metaphorically as well as physically. The finish line for both the men’s and women’s races is in Overijse on the outskirts of Brussels, providing an almost tangible transition towards Wallonia.

To keep this metaphor going a little longer, the merger of the two distinct parts of the classics calendar also comes within the course. Spread among the climbs, there are several stretches of cobbles to test the riders.

If you’re already feeling the cobbles withdrawal symptoms, then this is a good way to get a final taste of them. There is a large helping of climbs for the riders to stick their teeth into, 26 for the men and 21 for the women.

Exciting racing

If the first two reasons weren’t enough to convince you to tune in Wednesday, then do it for the exciting racing.

The mix of cobble crushers and hill climbers makes for an interesting balance of power within the peloton.

How the race plays out will depend on team tactics at the start of the day but it’s rare that a group of more than seven or eight riders make it to the line together.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.