What a weekend!!! Belgium hits the spot with excitement on both days

Without even touching on the Giro D’Italia starting this weekend saw the best racing of 2020 by far.

Saturday

After a stop start race with a missed day and re-route thanks to the new Netherlands Covid protocol, Mads Pedersen looked to be in a good place to win the Binck-Bank Tour.

However with 2 full and 1 partial ascent of the fearsome Muur to go (see my attempt below!) Mathieu Van der Poel took flight.

The Dutch champion was a bit more rapid over the 17% cobbles than I was and soloed away.

A select group of chasers formed behind but still VdP pressed on getting all of the maximum bonus seconds in the golden kilometer, an innovation that this race has stuck with over the years.

Soren Kragh Andersen got himself in prime position to win the race overall but only if Van der Poel was caught.

As the race headed in Geraardsbergen for the final time and a finish just above the market square it was clear that wasn’t going to happen and the boy wonder hung on for the final metres and took the overall race win along with the stage.

It was a really exciting finish and shows that wind, rain and cobbles makes for the best racing. Full Stop.

Sunday

After Marc Hirschi winning Fleche Walloone in the week the man of the summer (c) was part of the key break in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

So much happened though that I had to make notes and here they are showing my disbelief as the race unfolded.

  • Not too far after halfway a crash takes out Greg Van Avermaet, he looks badly injured. Maybe no Flanders? The likes of Sep Vanmarkce and GvA won’t ever win it.
  • La Redoute is the big climb of the race but its fairly neutral with Quick Step setting the pace.
  • Julian Alaphillippe crashes.
  • Alaphillippe attacks on the Roche aux Faucons climb. Only Michal Kwiatkowski, Hircshi, Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar can go with him.
  • Van der Poel is leading the chase behind… he couldn’t get across could he?
  • Kwiatkowski is dropped.
  • Into the last KM and they are playing a few games with each other. Matej Mohoric is flying across from the group behind.
  • Mohoric goes past and opens up the sprint. Alaphillippe and Hirschi collide and the Swiss pulls his foot out ending his chances.
  • Alaphillippe throws his hands in the air but Roglic goes past him to win!!!
  • Van der Poel wins the bunch sprint for 5th.

First up, I am sure some of you will be surprised that there are notes written ahead of blog posts!

Secondly, it was a terrible mistake by Alaphillippe in sight of the line but with him relegated for his wonky sprint into Hirschi it didn’t affect the outcome of the race as Roglic would have won anyway.

Thirdly, after the manner of his defeat in the Tour de France, no-one could begrudge Primoz his win in this race and I have to admit that despite having nothing against Alaphillippe I did punch the air and cheer when it was clear the Slovenian had got the win.

Right Flemish semi classics this coming week… beat that!

A sad inevitability…

As the week has worn on, the whole world has been edging nearer and nearer a period of shutdown.

Despite taking place, Paris Nice has ended a day early to allow riders to get home before their respective nations shut down for a couple of weeks or so.

The race itself was pretty exciting with lots of wind, rain and one of my favourite words of the spring, Echelons.

Lovely.

But all through the week there was an impending sense of doom that became reality Thursday into Friday when a number of teams pulled out.

And that it would appear is that in terms of bike racing for the foreseeable future. No Giro, very little chance of the Flemish classics and a growing sense of feeling despite all of ASOs posturing, the Tour de France will be next.

I might be one of the last up the Muur for a while…

But as my post earlier in the week stated, public health must come first and this period where a lot of the things we take for granted are taken away, we will grow to appreciate them on their return.

Stay safe.

Announcement of the 2017 Tour of Flanders Route: start in Antwerp – Muur van Geraardsbergen makes its comeback. | News | Elite Men | Ronde Van Vlaanderen

For those of us of a certain age and vintage, the news that the Muur is back in the Ronde will evoke memories of Edwig Van Hooydonck on grainy tv pictures romping up the place of worship at the top. 

Slightly younger folk will be inspired by the HD footage of Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara duking it out as the road steepens nearer the summit. 

Either way, the news that it is back is brilliant news and could just be the final nudge we need to go back again to this wonderful race and occasion. 

Announcement of the 2017 Tour of Flanders Route: start in Antwerp – Muur van Geraardsbergen makes its comeback. | News | Elite Men | Ronde Van Vlaanderen