The Brabantse Pijl – also known as La Flèche Babançonne – is, like Scheldeprijs, a mid-week race that serves as a bridge between bigger events and major spring Classics.
Whereas Scheldeprijs sits between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Brabantse Pijl – or Brabant Arrow – is a physical and temporal pointer between the cobbled Classics and the Ardennes Classics.
In 2020, the race’s arrows flowed in the opposite direction as the COVID-19 pandemic forced a massive reschedule and Brabantse Pijl sat between Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Gent-Wevelgem.
The race provided then new world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) his first victory in the rainbow jersey after he celebrated too early in Liège, lost the sprint to Primoz Roglic and then was relegated for irregular sprinting.
Alaphilippe escaped in a three-man group with Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) and boxed the Dutchman in behind Cosnefroy in the sprint to take the victory in Overijse.
Like Scheldeprijs, the Pro Series men’s race is paired with a UCI 1.1-ranked women’s event, which was won last year by Grace Brown.
This season, the race will also provide a preview of part of the UCI Road World Championships road race course but neither Alaphilippe nor Brown will not be present.
The BikeExchange team will be arriving without Brown, who soloed to victory last season in Overijse, after the Australian’s busy early season that included a victory in the Classic Brugge-De Panne.
Riders of note in the women’s race include former world champions Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx), Cyclo-cross world champion Lucinda Brand and US champion Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo).
Cyclingnews will be bringing you live coverage during Brabantse Pijl. We will also be bringing you full reports, results, news, interviews, and analysis throughout the race. Read on to find out how to watch the Brabantse Pijl via live stream, no matter your location, with ExpressVPN.
Wout van Aert replaces Paris-Roubaix with Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold
Paris-Roubaix postponed to October due to COVID-19 pandemic in France
Brabantse Pijl 2021
Brabantse Pijl Women 2021
With Paris-Roubaix postponed, the Brabantse Pijl will be a last chance for the cobbled Classics specialists to get in a few digs before taking a break and it will be a good warm-up for the Ardennes with no fewer than 27 climbs scattered across 201.7km on the roads east of Brussels.
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) will make his debut in the race, having added it and the Amstel Gold Race to his calendar after Paris-Roubaix was postponed.
Without Alaphilippe or Van der Poel on the start list, Van Aert is an obvious favourite but riders like Michael Matthews (BikeExchange), Mikkel Honoré (Deceuninck-Quickstep), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) have shown fine form and Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën), Christophe Laporte (Cofidis), Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) and Magnus Cort (EF-Nippo) are capable winners over the hilly 201.7km route.
The women will race 127.3km and rather than start in Leuven, go past Overijse to Beersel and double back for the closing laps like the men, they will instead start in Lennik and head straight to the Walloon Brabant climbs for an early shake-out and then cover the flatter roads to Overijse where they’ll tackle the same lumpy closing circuit.
The Schavei, which has made the race in past years, is out with the newly resurfaced Moskestraat which pitches up to 15 per cent gradients, the main selector with around 11km to go.
All eyes will be on Van Vleuten and Van den Broek-Blaak, but watch out for punchy climbers like Liane Lippert (Team DSM), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (SD Worx) and Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) to be in the mix.
Men’s start: 12:37 p.m. CET
Men’s finish: approximately 5:40 p.m. CET
Women’s start: 10:58 a.m. CET
Women’s finish: approximately 2:10 p.m. CET
Live broadcast starts: 11:15 a.m. CET (women), 3:15 p.m. CET (men)
Read on for all the information on how to watch the Brabantse Pijl 2021.