Click here to enjoy reliving a super Sunday.
The second best one day bike race (after the Ronde) takes place this weekend for the first time since 2019.
The 2020 Paris Roubaix, or Hell of the North, was cancelled in the April of that year as the Covid pandemic raged. It was provisionally re-scheduled for the end of that year but a surge in cases around the races finish area in Lille saw no race and much sadness for fans.
April 2021 saw more challenges in that area of Northern France and whilst the Flemish classics just over the border in Belgium took place, the Roubaix velodrome was again left silent.
But we do now have an event with a firm date for this Sunday, 3rd October 2021 and what’s more both the men’s and inaugural female events will both be hitting the cobbles.
This feels like a massive moment for cycling and a real sign that things are coming back to some level of normality and we will have a full set of one day monuments to look back on (unless something terrible happens in Italy to affect Il Lombardia).
My favourite memory of Roubaix was the 1994 edition where Andrei Tchmil survived the rain, mud and snowy blizzards the best. He was able to make the velodrome finish and take home the coveted cobble as his prize.
I remember a classic shot from the tv motorbike as Tchmil got away and the back drop was some old mining pulleys and towers with the cloud behind them the likes of which I’d never seen before.
The snow followed soon after and it was clear this would be a race we would talk about for years. I know I still am!
Since 1994 we have only seen one truly wet event, in 2002.
The forecast for this Sunday isn’t great with showers and 24kph winds anticipated on the exposed roads north of Paris.
If that doesn’t whet your appetite for this great event then nothing will.
Enjoy the race.
Despite being, what I would call, a cycling buff, there are many instances where I can’t take in all of a race.
I have even written on this very website how the recent trend of tv coverage from flag to flag sometimes can feel like too much cycling.
The first instance of this trend I can remember was the 2015 Paris Roubaix where the first hour of action waiting for the break to form was much more entertaining that what went after it. So the television execs thought they’d hit on a successful formula and it stuck.
But for every race like that, there has been plenty where ‘sleepy’ would still be too active a description for the action.
Its content like that which gives commentators abuse on the internet. They can only call what they see and if nothing is happening the dead air is filled with less quality. Same goes for the racing.
The 2021 world professional men’s road race yesterday was one occasion where if you invested the time at the start of the race, there were massive rewards at the finish.
The French national team rode the perfect race.
Unlike the Belgians who seemed to back both Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert before leaving home town rider Jasper Stuyven to content the finale, the raiding team from south of the border had a clear strategy.
They backed the defending champion to the hilt and were rewarded by his retention of the precious rainbow jersey.
From 140kms out Benoit Cosnefroy and Anthony Turgis were a total pain in the Belgians backsides with attacks and counter attacks forcing lots of chasing.
Italy were caught out in the first big split, something that might have contributed to a subdued finale from their main hope Sonny Colbrelli.
Mathieu Van der Poel was very subdued and was content to follow all day without having any impact on the race.
Julian Alaphillippe attacked four or five times to get his win with a number of these digs coming in the last lap and a half around Leuven.
He eventually wore them down with his desire to get clear and with Valentin Madouas working hard to help him establish his lead he was gone and gone for good.
The splinter group chasing him down had neither Van Aert, Tom Pidcock nor Van der Poel within it and didn’t have the power left to make the catch.
You can argue that Alaphillippe is all show and no content, but the wins he is racking up now make that point of view weak.
He is so entertaining to watch and his attack so wonderful to behold that you can’t help but be engaged and excited.
Last year he won with style. This year he won with persistence, style, panache and flair.
It truly was a world for the ages.
|2||VAN BAARLE Dylan||Netherlands||475||260||0:32|
|5||POWLESS Neilson||United States||275||130||,,|
|6||PIDCOCK Thomas||Great Britain||225||110||0:49|
|7||ŠTYBAR Zdeněk||Czech Republic||175||100||1:06|
|8||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||Netherlands||150||90||1:18|
We have a window of opportunity with our supplier to get an order of Beers of Belgium CC merchandise in.
(Store password – “FENDRIEN”)
We have enough for a jersey run but would need some more cap orders for it to be viable to make them.
Having had a garden bar built during lockdown, the SUB keg beer pump from Beerwulf was a brilliant 2020 Fathers Day gift from my children.
The beer was cold and frothy just how I like it and despite some limited options in terms of replacement kegs to go in the machine, there is now a lot more of a Belgian feel to the SUB keg.
That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed it to date, but Pelforth is a French and not Belgian beer although you could argue the quality of the Brune is comparabale to some brews from north of the border.
The initial reviews of the machine were that the compressor was noisy and unreliable, but (fingers crossed) to date we have had no issues.
As well as Delirium (picture above) we can now get Affligem in Blonde, Brune and now Dubbel orTripel. La Chouffe is not a favourite of mine but that is also now available to order.
Of course the pursits will rightly point out that this is not the same as getting an authentic bottle from a bar, but we can’t go to Belgium right now so this is a great way of keeping the taste of some favourites whilst maybe trying something new if its on the list and you haven’t tried it before.
This has been a hard week for a number of reasons I wont go into so it’s nice to get to Friday evening and a delicious beer.
I’d not tasted this Leffe winter beer before but I am really impressed by it.
There remains a snobbery about Leffe , especially in Belgium. But as an accessible beer with a taste that can transport you back to Flanders it hits the spot.
Brune and Blonde I will drink. On draught I prefer Ruby but this one beats them all.
Its crisp, yet fruity and puts me in the mind of much pricier and stronger bottles.
So whilst I love the rarer and smaller batch products that are harder to track down and costlier to drink, this weekend I appeal to you all to show love for Leffe…
It does a job. It’s a domestique rather than classics winner but as long as you understand that it wont disappoint.
Welcome to 2021 and Beers of Belgium.
I would love to say we have big plans for the page this year but I am not sure the Covid pandemic will allow that.
However, despite all of the challenges we face right now I am determined to enjoy the cycling season and sup some beers doing it.
I hope that you will be along for the ride !
I have taken a trip to the dark side (Walloonia!!) when in the West Country recently.
Whilst my family were loafing around the Home Bargains in Bude I found some Belgian beer for 75p a pop.
I wasn’t convinced it would be up to much but as a barbeque accompaniment it was ok.
Anyone else tried Belgica before? Some of the review apps love it and some hate it, but I quite liked it.