460 km – 9000 D+
“Let me be clear : the course designer belongs behind bars, because that last stage is just criminal.” [CycloWorld]
The Conquest of the Ardennes is an extraordinary permanent ultra cycling route. A challenge out of the calendar. A brevet that you can ride whenever and however you want.
The route takes famous climbs like the Mur of Huy, the Redoute, or even the Rosier Pass and Stockeu. It reveals you its secrets and hidden gems. Will you be able to ride it ?
The route, with its abundant elevation changes and landscapes, traverses the Ardennes, Famenne, and Condroz regions. Scaling the steepest hills and ascents in Belgium, you will be both pushed to your limits and awed by the gems that the Conquête can offer. Depending on the terrain and geography of the area, the route can be divided into four distinct zones, each with its own types of ascents.
La mise en jambes
Before you dive into the grand feast, would you like an appetizer? Be careful, it might fill you up nicely. The entrance to the Ardennes deserves your attention, so keep your eyes open!
L’enfer de la doyenne
The best of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, spiced up with flavors to remember. We removed everything that had no taste and added everything that could enhance the dish.
La grande traversee
A recovery section that will allow you to regain some speed, for those looking to boost their statistics. Watch out for the wind, which might catch you off guard.
La bataille des murs
You've had enough, but we're giving you more. A mandatory passage through the dreadful Mosan hills. Almost a pilgrimage, and certainly a via crucis.
91 km – 1 770 hm
The Mise-en-Jambes is like the welcome drink. An introduction directly into the atmosphere with the Thier de Huy and its maximum slope of 17%, a good way to check if the 34-34 is well oiled.
The route then plunges gradually eastward to seek out hostilities one by one. An ideal warm-up before the main course that awaits you in the Hell of the Old Lady.
The Old Lady's Hell
107 km – 2 500 hm
When we designed the gargantuan route of the Conquest, one of the objectives was clearly to harden Liège-Bastogne-Liège. On paper, the Old Lady (La Doyenne des Classiques) has it all, but the presence of too many transition zones between climbs is likely to overshadow them. Sections of valleys without great emotions. We therefore present here the Hell, from Spa, who will impose his terrible and varied slopes on us repeatedly, without wasting time in a healing valley that could soften our calves becoming stiff.
For some of us, Zone 2 will be fun, like the Col du Rosier, for others, it will be indigestible, like the Thier de Coo. For an attempt within 24 hours, it is undoubtedly in the Hell of the Old Lady that you will know if the initiative still has a chance to bear fruit, or if the Old Lady has already cut you down, destroying any hope of being a Chasseur Ardennais. In any case, the Great Eddy, immortalized in his stone at the top of the Côte de Stockeu, will be there to encourage you to resist, and to go to the end. Because if you are there, day or night, it means that you are a Conqueror in the making... At the end of Zone 2, you will total more than 200 hilly kilometers and 4000m of elevation gain, with worn legs, to undertake the Great Traversée.
The Great Crossing
117 km – 1 850 hm
With its height ratio of 16m per kilometer, the Grande Traversée acts as a recovery area in this Conquest of the Ardennes. This is probably where you will need to find your second wind, after being forced to hit the breaker in the Old Lady's Hell.
Appetite comes with eating, so your appetite, after 200km of climbing, is at its peak at this time. That's good, because riding towards La Roche-en-Ardenne and its feudal castle will not be so easy. Hills sometimes easier, but still real hills. You will discover other conditions here, with parts more exposed to the wind than before. Climbing is good, but climbing with a headwind is better!
The Conquest is also a bit of sweetness. The opportunity to open your eyes wide, because you wander in the Deux Ourthes Natural Park and its majestic forests, you will get foot in the Famenne, and will end at the Condroz border along the Lesse. From the southernmost point of the route, let yourself slide quietly towards the Meuse area, before the last part of this Conquest.
If you haven't felt any cramps yet, expect them sometime soon. It's a fact and the numbers never lie: at this stage, if you started in Huy, you will have more than 320 km and 6000 EG.
The Battle of the Walls
141 km – 2 750 hm
KM 320. More than 30 climbs of all kinds in the legs. It burns. The Grande Traversée went well, but the hip balancer got rough. Pedaling was smooth 10 hours earlier, but is now starting to get angular with a lower cadence. However, there is still a site to be completed, a battle to be won. That of the Walls. A sawtooth battle.
The Meuse area offers this playground favourable to punchers: shorter but steeper climbs, while also having some more traditional hills in stock. Without going into details, Montagne de La Croix, Gayolle, 7 Meuses, Triple Mur de Monty, Mur de Huy,… will stand up as real ramparts in front of you. The phrase "be in front of wall" will take on its full meaning after a good fifteen hours of conquering plenty of ascensions.
We saved the best for last. The apotheosis. To end in style. This is here, this is now. The 34-34 has never been so useful. When you arrive on the roof of the Citadel, you can see the last bastion towards Huy. Only 50km remaining, in normal times this would be a formality. But beware, these 50km are tricky. Shark's teeth have not finished to consume you.
Hall of Fame
CDA Road 2023
Arriverez-vous à conquérir les Ardennes ?
The route is globally good, but we are in Belgium, you know.
We recommend at least 28mm tyres for your comfort.
The registration includes :
- .gpx File
- Finisher souvenir
- Hall of Fame
- Championship points
When you have finished the loop, send us your Strava activity to email@example.com to be validated.