From bottom to top, it measures 400 meters…437.5 yards…1,312.3 feet. That’s the length of the Paterberg, the final cobbled climb along the Tour of Flanders route. How hard could it be?

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The answer? Very. While just 400 meters long, it averages 12 percent and has ramps at 20 percent. Those numbers are difficult on asphalt. On cobbles they are torture. The Paterberg has the profile of a bell curve. It begins with a ramp of 2 percent, then rapidly climbs to 20 percent two thirds of the way to the summit before slacking off slightly at the top. It’s a profile that may mimic the actual bell curve of riders with the ability to make it to the top without unclipping.

The cobbles themselves are actually among the newest along the route. The Paterberg was a dirt track until 1986 when a cycling-mad farmer paved the route in cobbles just so the race would go by his home. What the cobbles lack in brutal surface they more than make up for in gradient. To ride this stretch in under a minute takes power numbers reserved for the very best on the UCI World Tour.

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