Tour of Flanders bike setup question/experience

Riding said sportive later this year and ideally would like to use my cyclocross bike with as few changes as possible.

I’ve no time goals for the event but would like to be comfortable and also secure with gearing for the short narrow climbs given the amount of other riders out on the course at the same time.

My bike has a ton of clearance so thinking something like a 32mm road tyre would be a fair bet.

When it comes to gearing I’ve an issue as I’m running 2x10 Campy with a 39/42 chainset and 13-29 cassette. I’m thinking that might be a little high after a few hours even if I expect my FTP to be around 4.5w/Kg at the time.

So should I buy a compact chainset for the event with a 36 inner ring? Given Campy prices a whole new Tiagra groupset is also possible giving me an even greater range of gears.

Experience/thoughts welcome.

Just going to give this a bump… The TCR has a short cage RD so I’m maxed out at 28 teeth at the back. Compact (34) on the front. This bike and set up got me around the full Liege Bastogne Liege - any reason to upgrade the rear derailleur for the muur/ koppenberg/ boonenberg?

A 28t rear with a 38t ring got me round the full course and even on subsequent years when I’ve had a 36t ring (which also saw me round the LBL), you don’t need it or any lower for the Koppenberg anyway as its that busy its walking only.

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Go for the greater range of gears, no doubt.

On the steepest bergs you‘ll get people stepping off in front of you. You need to slow down and reacclerate if you want to go past them.

It‘s one thing climbing the Koppenberg in your 42/29 doing your prefered watts and cadence. It‘s another thing entirely trying to rev back up from 30rpm at 600W after having lost all your momentum trying to go around other people…

Koppenberg is especially terrible for this as it starts asphalted and steep, so it lulls most people into going hard at the start already. Then you turn left, see the cobbles and the insane ramp up, and most people realise they are screwed :joy:

That coming from someone who did this at 4.2Wkg FTP @ 80kg a few years back.

I‘m 2552 :wink:


As others have said, I’d think slightly less about what would be ideal with a straight clear run at it, but rather what you can lightly accelerate in the saddle from walking pace on steep cobbles.

I had 36/32 I think last year, and a large part of not having to unclip on any of the climbs was the ability to slow right down to look for gaps and move into them without needing massive torque. This is especially so on the Kwaremont and to a lesser extent on the Patterberg where there are many walkers.

So, whilst not needing MTB gearing, if you can get lower it would help. However as it’s also only really two climbs that are very steep, and due to crowds you may still end up walking them anyway, you may decide it’s not worth the expense. If you’re staying anywhere near Oudernaade you may be able to get a clearer run on those climbs in the days before.


I don‘t know about that :wink: There‘s a few candidates for leg snapping this year: Berendries, de Muur, Koppenberg, Paterberg and a few not far behind these…
Sure worth the extra gearing in my opinion, especially if one travels far for the experience :blush:

Personally I have never met a gear I didn‘t like :laughing::wink:


I did LBL and Flanders on the same bike 25mm tyres, tubeless, and a 36/28 lowest gear. My ftp is around 3.2w/kg.

Personally I’d say with your ftp you’ll be fine but if you want to make it easier on yourself then fit easier gears

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You’re right - I don’t do the others justice. There are a lot of very steep kicks throughout. I think those two just stand out because they’re both late on and busy. De Mur is probably almost as steep and rough, but because it’s only on one of the longer routes you can get a clearer ascent.

Though they don’t tell you much about the section I found toughest - the slightly descending cobbles of Stationberg! :flushed:


Is that the fast downhill that ends with a house with a front window full of bottles that have been dislodged?

It’s a cracker that one

It could well be; I’ve typically found my eyeballs rattling around too much on it to see! :grin:

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And I actually practice what I preach😅 I am headed to the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Omlooop Het Nieuwsblad cyclos next weekend, and they have some of the friendlier bergs.

So the trusty 11-23 I love for flat riding in Berlin has to go, and I‘ll swap in my 11-32 instead :blush:

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Thanks all. Seems to be only the R8000 available in medium cage, but presuming a bit of a tech upgrade which might justify the expense. That’d give me 34-32. I also, have Raid Alpine on the agenda for the summer, so extra gears for that probably no harm as well.

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As others have said the Koppenberg is the tough one. It is very narrow and if someone stops right in front you will be in trouble - so hold back at the start and let some gaps open if you can. I’ve ended up toppling into the hedge both times I did the sportive :grinning:. On a non-sportive day it was tough but fine. Paterberg is also hard, but by that point in the ride there is much more space. In general I would say the earlier you can start the better to get ahead of some of the chaos. Enjoy, it is a great experience.

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You could just use a Wolf Link RD adapter and save the cost of a new RD.


Just chiming in to say this event is a long held dream of mine and I am enjoying the question and advice.


I did consider that - think I have an Ali version, buried somewhere in the shed.

Edit - actually might just go for the wolftooth. I don’t mind cheaping out on the derailluer, but trusting a knockoff for the extender might be a bit too far for the experience of a lifetime trip!

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I’ve now done it 4 times… all of them amazing in their own way… if you do decide to do it… try and ride the route that includes the Muur van Geraardsbergen . It’s an excellent event and if you’ve never ridden in Belgium it’s an eye opener… there aren’t many sportives in the UK where the crowd are cheering you on, I was offered a glass of fizzy wine at the top of one climb, and everywhere you go the atmosphere is electric.


I did LBL, and it’s the same gang I’m going to do RVV with. They’ve done Flanders loads of times, and say there’s no comparison to the atmosphere.

Staying in Brugge, and doing the long version (which includes the muur).

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The first 40miles out of Brugge is a bit flat and boring. Everybody, including riders, seemed to vanish there when I did it. Lol, then I glanced back and there was a long string of the latter behind me. The second half once you get into the bergs is great. In latter years I’ve only done the second half but doing the full thing was worth it for the bragging rights :joy:

Keep your eye on the weather. When I done the long one it was -1deg at the start and snow at the finish but the next year I done it, it peeked 23deg C.

Tour of Flanders | Ride | Strava

Edit: I am in the blue Endura soft shell with grey sleeves. Depending where it was on the ride Im wearing or not a luminous yellow gilet on top.

The pro race the next year.


Having just finished Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne cyclo, my memory is very refreshed about the bergs. We had a few cobbled climbs of little fame and I can very confidently say: 39-32 made me cry after experiencing the sad click of „no more gears“. Even the asphalted climbs in this region sometimes kick up to ridiculous, ridiculous grades!

Please don‘t go with a 39-29 @philip_king :smile: I took a video for you while pegged at 400W:

Full ride with some impression of what a minor Flemish Fondo looks like:

De Ronde Van Vlaanderen is much, much, much bigger :smile: