On grey ribbons of cracked asphalt, through dark green pine forests and rocky valleys and, up, above, on wind-blasted plateaus, all of one’s skills and strength as a cyclist are tested in the Ardennes.
One after another, the hills hit, the next always coming before one can catch one’s breath. Rarely is there a moment of relief. The descents are tricky; they switch back and forth through grey-stone villages and countryside; the corners, off-camber as often as not. There is no time to recover; the landscape is relentless; in a race one must remain concentrated from the first moment to the last.
Cycling has specialists on every terrain, climbers in the high mountains, sprinters on the flatlands, et cetera, et cetera, but only the very, very best succeed in the Ardennes.>