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Your chance to ride with Johan Museeuw and get VIP access to E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem

Ride in the tyre tracks of the pros: plan your own trip or take your chance to ride with Johan Museeuw

'There's a hype around the Classics,' says Johan Museeuw. He should know: he won Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders three times each along with a raft of other early season victories.

'It's the same hype as riding on Mallorca, it's where everybody wants to ride and we have the same in Flanders.'

The often-repeated line about why cycling is superior to other sports is its accessibility. How many among us will ever play football at Wembley, tennis at Wimbledon or rugby at Murrayfield?

But fancy conquering the climbs and cobbles of the Classics? Well, go on then. The roads are open all year round, except when the pros are using them, and are no less difficult out of season.

'Everybody wants to go to the Koppenberg and the Paterberg, they want to get up the famous hills,' Museeuw says. 'We see a lot of visitors from everywhere.'

Visiting the famous roads of Flanders

There are plenty of ways to visit the roads and routes of races like the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem.

Ride with Johan Museeuw and Velusso

The easiest and least stressful way of riding the Classics has to be with the help of a travel company. There are plenty out there offering trips based around the weekend of a given race, transporting riders to the sportive and showing them the professional event the following day.

With an increasingly crowded market, firms are finding new ways to make their offerings appealing and unique. One way to do this is to bring along a pro or former-pro to ride the routes with the visitors, and that's something Museeuw will be doing this year.

Luxury cycle holiday operator Velusso is one of many companies that will this year be taking guests to the roads of the Classics, but few others can offer a cycling companion like Johan Museeuw.

With a four-night stay in a Belgian townhouse, the itinerary includes two days of riding with Museeuw across the Belgian cobbles and part of the Paris-Roubaix route.

Further, guests will gain VIP access to both pro races E3 Harelbeke on Friday 23rd March and Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday 25th March.

If this is of interest, riders can see more information at velusso.co.uk or get in touch directly at enquiries@velusso.co.uk

This is a top-end example of what's on offer, but there are plenty of other companies out there offering excellent packages that will get you on the must-ride roads of the Classics races.

With so many options, this year really should be the year more of us head over to ride the cobbles and bergs that make the Spring Classics the best time of the year.

Ride an official sportive

For many, the best way is to ride one of the official sportives offered the day before the pro race: this way amateurs can cover the route on one day and watch the pros do it - at much higher speeds - the next.

Making a weekend of it is a fantastic way to see the area that gives these events their character.

Find out more about the official sportives:

We Ride Flanders: sport.be/werideflanders/2018   
Paris-Roubaix Challenge: parisroubaixchallenge.com

Plan your own trip

Another way is to plan your own trip with a hop across the Channel and a short drive into the Flemish cycling heartland, or by making the most of the 'any Belgian station' option offered by Eurostar.

Routes can be planned on sites like Ride With GPS, uploaded to a Wahoo or similar bike computer, then away you go.

This type of trip balances logistical responsibility against freedom to do what you want.

Cobbles and bergs

The Koppenberg and Paterberg that Museeuw mentions are two stinging climbs that come in relatively quick succession on a loop around the farmland outside of Oudenaarde.

A longer route can take in the Oude Kwaremont, and all three are tackled by amateurs on the Tour of Flanders sportive.

However, beyond these big name climbs there are plenty of lesser known roads that can be explored by locals and visitors alike.

These forgotten climbs of Flanders pack a punch and are well worth a visit.

The Hell of the North

Paris-Roubaix might be the best race on the calendar but its parcours holds less appeal to visiting riders than the roads just over the border in Flanders, and this is something that the retired champion touches on.

'You don't see this on the route of Paris-Roubaix, only on the day before the professionals,' Museeuw says. 'On that event you see a lot of people but that's just once a year.

Speaking ahead of the opening weekend of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne, he adds, 'already people are riding in Flanders ahead of the Spring Classics, so that's good.'