On your bike! Lesser-known cycling events in Europe

With the weather hotting up and the evenings growing ever longer, the open road calls to many a fan of two wheels. A huge number of cycling races take place across Europe during the summer and early autumn months, so if you’re gearing up for the finale of the Tour de France you should definitely check out these other events in the calendar. Whether you’re a keen cyclist looking for a place to race, or a fan who simply wants to witness these world class athletes in training, these lesser-known cycling events provide stunning views, exciting terrain and a buzzing atmosphere for spectators.

Tour de Wallonie, Belgium – 22-26 July

Image by Winniepix

Head to Belgium for the perfect cure to the post-race blues of the Tour de France’s final stages, and see Europe’s rising stars take part in this five-day event across the Wallonian countryside. At once beautiful and awe-inspiring for cyclists, the professional race crosses through areas rich with stories and history, making it the perfect event for a bit of sightseeing along the way. This year’s finishing line lands in Thuin, a small municipality two hours’ drive from the port of Zeebrugge, whose UNESCO World Heritage Site belfry has stood tall through conflicts such as the French Revolutionary Wars and World War I.

Schaal Sels, Belgium – 27 August

First held in honour of Jacques-Charles Sels, a well-known Belgian sports journalist who died in 1921, Schaal Sels embodies features from all of the sport’s most famous events wrapped up in one day on the varied 200-kilometre route. Each year, 15,000 spectators flock to see professional riders and determined up-and-comers take on Classics-style cobbles, stunning off-road segments and a broad Tour-style stretch for the breathless race to the finish. You’ll find the starting line of VéloNews’ Route of the Year 2015 just an hour and a half’s drive from the port of

Kernen Omloop Echt-Susteren – 3 September

Cycling in the netherlands
Image by Jun

For a positive day out among a passionate cycling community, there really is no beating the unique Kernen Omloop in Echt-Susteren, just over two hours from the Port of Rotterdam by car. For the 2017 edition, teams from across the globe will descend on the narrowest part of the Netherlands (where it’s possible to walk from Germany to Belgium in under an hour) for a fiercely competitive one-day race. The Kernen Omloop is far more tactical than its more strenuous counterparts, so it’s not always the strongest riders who lift the trophy. This inclusive event holds fun activities throughout the day for recreational riders, children and disabled cyclists.

La Ronde Picarde, France – 9 September

Bay of the Somme
Image by eutrophication&hypoxia

For easier terrain with panoramic views, La Ronde Picarde is a scenic one-day race along the northern French coast. The route passes historic battlefields, regal cliffs and stunning lakes before culminating at the Bay of the Somme – widely considered one of the most beautiful in the world. There are three different routes available depending on ability: Granfondo at 50 kilometres, Mediofondo at 128 kilometres, and Rando at 180 kilometres, each of which offers largely flat (if slightly windy) roads for the duration. The starting line in Abbeville is just over an hour away from the port of Calais.

Ready to start your two-wheeled trip? Find out more about travelling with bikes on P&O Ferries or take a look at our adventure planner to get inspired.

Feature image by PIVISO