In 2015 Schaal Sels changed course from a classic road race to a new spectacular track with cobble stones and unpaved sections trough corn fields and on farmers roads. Comments are extremely positive and (international) press compares the format to famous races as Strade Bianche and Tro Bro Leon. US’ leading VéloMagazine rewarded Schaal Sels as “Track of the Year 2015”. Motivated by the positive feedback, lots of cobble stones and unpaved sections will surely be present in all next editions.
To guarantee the safety of the riders, motorcyclists and support cars, a big investment is made in the unpaved sections: pruning trees, hardening and rolling surfaces and removing swaths of corn. Any effort possible is done to bring trails in excellent condition. These efforts turn out to be effective as no cyclists crashed in the unpaved sections and the number of flat tires is minimal.
An extra investment is guaranteeing the safety at the “Bredabaan”, the broad avenue were the finish line lays since many years. Due to recent redesign, a tramway runs through the axis. Bringing an innovative solution, nearly 2.5km of railway tracks are filled with specially designed rubber strips and sealed with high quality non skid tape (as you can see on the picture). This turns out the be very effective as well: the riders are not obstructed or afraid to ride on the tape lengthwise. No incidents happen in the final straight line and the tape is weatherproof in case of rain.
The organisers leave “no stone unturned” to guarantee the safety of the riders on the entire track on any edition. The race is evaluated thoroughly with all parties and where needed adjustments are made to optimize the next edition.
Start and finish is in Merksem, a city next to Antwerp. After some local laps, the riders pass the Port of Antwerp to go northwards to the Antwerp "Polder". After that, the peloton come back to Merksem for another local lap and the finish. You can download the track of 2017 on the map here.