In praise of the Molenberg
There are such a large number of climbs in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen
that it’s impossible to try and pick a favourite…
But I will try.
The big three are of course, the Koppenberg, Oude Kwaremont
Famous, popular and lined out with casual riders most days,
and supporters on race days, these are the hellingen that define the most
popular one day race on the planet.
I have always been different though.
For me the big three were experiences never to forget but I
rode averagely at best on all of them.
So I looked back over my data to see which of the 17 I had
the best performances on with the idea of making a case for the once I bonded
with the best.
It was a close toss-up between Berendries (although as it
has no cobbles, I discounted it), and the Molenberg.
So I chose the latter.
It has the standard start of a Flemish climb. A tight right
turn off a wider road onto a steep cobbled climb with a narrow road and grassy
banks to the side. Its steep and the cobbles are poor, uneven and jagged.
But then, something special happens. The road levels out
ever so slightly and despite the road still retaining its narrow width, the
pave ends and it opens up between two fields.
You then get your first glimpse of the famous windmill as
the road snakes left and right. At this point I started to find my legs and
overtake a number of groups as they struggled in the right hand lane.
I passed a rider with the city of Lincoln plastered on his
kit, exchanging a hello as I went. It was the most comfortable I felt in terms
of pace, power and form on the whole day on the road.
When I watched Andrei Griepel power away on the climb, the
next day I kind of knew how he felt. Kind of.
In researching this piece I found this brilliant video on
Youtube where the first few seconds tell you all you need to know about the