To the Netherlands!
Having eased yourself in with a bunch of what have predominantly been twenty milers, it’s now time to up the ante and claw back some of the initial shortfall. The asking rate to deliver Around The World In 800 Days on schedule is twenty three miles a stage so starting with stage thirteen, it’s claw back time.
You’ll not be surprised to learn that the course is lumpy, starting at 350ft and topping 600ft four times before settling back to a more modest 500ft by the finish: basically, it’s either up or down the whole way: flat road is in scarce supply. The highlight of the stage is the crossing from Belgium into the Netherlands around half way, but if you were expecting the Netherlands to be completely flat, then you’re going to be in for a surprise.
The rollout from Bree is east and uphill around the southern side of the town. The road climbs in lumpy fashion for six miles in total before trundling into Kinrooi where the stage takes in its first (false) summit. Water features regularly on the climb: the N73 highway crosses the Zuid-Willemsvaart canal after two miles, the Kanielstraatbeek river after four miles, the Broekziep river after six miles and the Grote Renne river a mile later: all before reaching Kinrooi.
This part of Belgium is well populated with waterways and after leaving Kinrooi, the road crosses the Goortsloot canal and the Abeek canal at eight miles then the Itterbeek stream shortly after, before the road rolls into Driessenstraat on the way up to the second peak at nine miles. The summit’s at the junction with the N751 which runs south east to Geistingen, but the N27 takes a left at the junction before descending down to Kessenich where another left takes the route north onto the N78 and the Belgium/Netherlands border.
Over the border, the N78 becomes the N273 and it hangs a right at twelve miles before heading north east through Santfort to cross the main A2 autoroute and the Kanaal Wessem-Nederweert at thirteen miles. The reservoirs of Boschmolenplas, Lange Vlieter and Heelderpeel follow shortly after, the road squeezing between them, then there’s a sharp right/left switchback of bends at nineteen miles that take the route around the eastern side of Haelan and Nunhem: Haelen claims the gong for the highest elevation of the stage, after which the road descends gently through Gendijk where it crosses the Neerbeek river, to Neer where the highway curves right to set up a straight run down over the Afwateringskanaal into the finish at Kessel-Eik.
Distance: 24 miles / 38 kilometres
Ascent: 728 feet / 222 metres
RGT Magic Road: YsmAFlgUr9rI
Max elevation: 909 ft
Min elevation: 599 ft
Total climbing: 728 ft
Total descent: -500 ft
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