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Last year’s 90th edition of Schaal Sels marked a turning point for the Belgian one-day race. Having been established way back in 1922, and having held a UCI 1.1 classification since 2005, the race had stagnated somewhat. But in 2015, race organisers decided to introduce more than 50km of gravel and cobblestone farm roads to the race, reinventing Schaal Sels overnight.
That 2015 edition was a chaotic affair, with gravel roads turning to mud, event vehicles getting bogged and several sections of the race neutralised. It also made for a thoroughly photogenic race, as Kristof Ramon showed.
The cobbles, gravel and dust were all back for last weekend’s 2016 edition, and in even greater abundance – the 91st edition featured more than 30km each of cobbles and gravel roads. The race was won, somewhat fittingly, by cyclocross world champion Wout van Aert, who broke away from a lead group late in the race and soloed to the line.
As Kristof’s stunning images show, it was another challenging day out on the farm roads near Antwerp. In fact, just 46 of the 147 starters managed to finish the race …