I am not sure if I am just so grateful to have bike racing at all, that I am enjoying all it at the moment.
The RVV last Sunday was a case in point with drama and brilliant racing well into the last 50 metres of the event.
But before the big 3 favourites became the big 2 and slugged it out on the overpass running into Oudenaarde there was lots to admire.
The days early break were as strong and committed as you would want for a race of this stature. They went quite deep into the race which meant a full peloton behind them had to be mindful and aware of where they were on the course.
There were plenty of crashes which you don’t like to see, of course, leading to Sep Vanmarcke having to produce one of the rides of the day to get back on before the start of the finishing circuit.
As has been the case far too often over the years for Sep he was producing his best work behind the race rather than using that effort to go off the front and yet again it was a story of what might have been.
When the race winning move did go it was driven by the world champion Julian Alaphillippe who put the hammer down. Wout van Aert and Mathieu Van der Poel were alert to the danger and with Elegant/Quickstep and Jumbo/Visma the two big teams having riders in the move that was day done for the majority of riders.
There was one big twist to come with Alaphillippe riding into the back of a slowing race motorcycle before landing hard on those unforgiving Belgian roads.
We had a big debate in our house about the crash. The bike did slow but Alaphillippe wasn’t looking where he was going. He’d been scrolling through his Garmin a number of times looking for data and information and whilst the bike shouldn’t have been travelling at that speed as the breakaway caught it, you do have a level of responsibility to be looking where you are going.
This left the former ‘cyclo cross dominating duo’ alone together again for the final bergs.
After marking each other out of Gent Wevelgem last weekend they were always going to collaborate to make sure they go to the finish of this one and that they did.
The sprint was neck and neck with Van der Poel just getting the drop of his rival for a win full of emotion and drama.
Let’s hope that we only have to wait until April for the next edition.
|1||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||Alpecin-Fenix||500||275||5:43:17|
|2||VAN AERT Wout||Team Jumbo-Visma||400||200||,,|
|3||KRISTOFF Alexander||UAE-Team Emirates||325||150||0:08|
|4||TURGIS Anthony||Team Total Direct Energie||275||120||,,|
|5||LAMPAERT Yves||Deceuninck – Quick Step||225||100||,,|
|6||CLAEYS Dimitri||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||175||90||,,|
|7||NAESEN Oliver||AG2R La Mondiale||150||80||,,|
|8||VAN BAARLE Dylan||INEOS Grenadiers||125||70||,,|
|9||DEGENKOLB John||Lotto Soudal||100||60||,,|
|10||BENOOT Tiesj||Team Sunweb||85||50||,,|
The Flanders Classics youtube channel has just uploaded a number of full race packages from the recent editions.
Introducing our new race cut 2019 classics jersey.
Featuring the original Fendrien black coloured jersey with the contrast red.
Despite moving across the border into Lincolnshire we have retained the gold and green of the Huntingdonshire flag for this jersey.
The design has a plain front with bold wording to stand out on the back and coloured pockets.
Technical features include tighter fit, bottom of jersey tape to keep it in place and body for stitching.
We love it!
The RVV Centrum in Oudenaarde, a brilliant way to spend an afternoon after getting hammered on the cobbles.
A great edition of the Ronde reviewed with some kit news locally
Also a look ahead to Roubaix this weekend.
A new route but the same finale is the Tour of Flanders news for 2017.
The organisers had to find a way to accommodate the Muur in Geraardsbergen after a lengthy absence. It looks too far out to influence the finish but as the Classics showed last year, the favourites will take a gamble from further out. Paris-Roubaix being the prime example.
This weeks racing has seen a number of favourites coming to the fore and some outside bets emerge as contenders.
In true Classic preview style here are some of the favourites based on the standard five star rating…
Peter Sagan ***** Reigning champion and has been in a rich vein of form this season. Has been there or thereabouts in all of the big races.
Greg Van Avermaet ***** Never won the Ronde and crashed out dramatically last season before the race really got going. This season he has smashed through the glass ceiling to start regularly winning the big races. It would be a bit of a surprise if he wasn’t on the podium.
Oliver Naesen **** A rider who came in under the radar until the end of last summer when IAM were closing down and he suddenly starting winning. He has been building his form nicely and was a factor in Gent-Wevelgem last weekend His inexperience a the top level might catch him out.
Philippe Gilbert **** There we were expecting him to be strong later in April for the Ardennes when he bursts on the Flemish scene and then backs up his classic form by winning 3 Days of de Panne. He might have left too much on the road in winning that race to be honest, but it would be interesting to see a Walloon contenting for this race.
Alexander Kristoff *** He won in the grand manner two years ago, but has struggled to win either sprints or classics ever since. The way he dominated Niki Terpstra in his 2015 breakaway might now be seen as the best moment of his career. I don’t see him winning but I think he might win the first group sprint.
Sep Vanmarcke *** Looked like he was going to be in the form of his life back in the opening weekend of the Belgian classics. He has been ill since and then to compound it all, crashed into the BMC team car the other day. Has he been blufffing and is this a Cannondale master plan?? … um no.
Luke Durbridge *** He would have been the outside of outsiders a month ago but having seen Mat Hayman win in Roubaix last season, its clear that Orica have form in winning these races. He was strong in the semi-classics and would have been close to the overall in de Panne but for getting the wrong side of a split.
All of the others are ** .
Let’s see how my predictions go eh!
This weeks show is all about Flanders. We talk the Ronde this weekend analysing who has been going well in the recent warm up races.
We also talk culturally and how this race defines a nation within a nation.
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.