Five things to watch in Flanders

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Ronde cobbles

If like me you will be watching the Tour of Flanders on TV, here are five things to look for during the race.

  • The early break: which of the big teams manage to place someone in the move that gets away and in particular, is it someone who could help their leader at a later stage in the race?
  • Team tactics: whilst the pre-race build up involves talk of individuals like Cancellara duelling with Boonen, Gilbert and others, cycling is still a form of team sport. With 50km to go, try to pick out which teams are well represented up front.
  • The battle: the fight on the climbs is obvious, riders will attack and some will get ejected from the lead group. But look at the other points in the race, try to spot the fight for position before the main climbs and notice which riders are near the front and those who are taking risks at the back of the group.
  • Lady luck: sometimes a rider needs a clear head, powerful legs but also a bit of luck. Try to spot who is having a good day and who is having a stinker. Who punctures at the wrong time, who drops back for a bottle at the wrong moment, who manages to stay upright when others don’t. Because after six hours of racing, these things can make all the difference.
  • Watch the way they ride: as the race nears the closing stages, see who is floating on the cobbles and who is being undone. See which riders have the presence of mind to pick the smoothest line and those who are too tired to think and end up wasting precious energy because they are already too tired.

The Ronde not for sale
I originally published a piece on here about the race being for sale. It was accurate… only years out of date. I landed on the story by accident and got mixed up by the live date at the top of the page only to miss the actual publication of the date at the foot of the piece. But a helpful reader pointed out my mistake and I’ve fixed the bungle. The race was indeed sold in 2008.

El Gato de La Cala April 3, 2011 at 10:23 am

1985 saw Eric Vanderaerden take a legendary win, almost equal to Bernard Hinaults 1980 win in La Doyenne (LBL) riding alone in horrific weather conditions. I was still in my very very late teens when EV made his move from behind after almost being out of the race, but De Ronde has since been like a back spine in my life with cycling, both on the bike and in the recent years mostly in front the of TV, and my inner cycling-alarm-clock starts ringing (my innerring, so to speak) early in the morning on days of RVV brining memories and pictures a live in my old head. Its a day to forget the existences of your family, a day for connoisseurs, a day to bring back your love for the sport. I say its: GOTIME! P.s. any suggestions on tyre pressure on dry and wet roads in RVV now a days?

Tom April 3, 2011 at 10:24 am

Make no mistake about it, in the post-Armstrong and systematic-doping era this years “de Ronde” is what cycling needs. An epic battle between some very likable riders on roads you can go yourself. It’s so full of heritage , heroes and touchable at the same time, it makes people want to buy a bike and ride it Cancellara of Boonen-style.
Regardless of the winner, if the race is won fair and square the sport of cycling has won too.

The Inner Ring April 3, 2011 at 11:10 am

El Gato de La Cala & Tom: it’s a great race and like all important races, bigger than any rider who takes part. It is the race that makes the rider and not the reverse!

leif April 3, 2011 at 11:14 am

Armstrong really has nothing to do to with the Ronde.
This is all about balls the walls riders….straight up!
May the best baller win.

Tom April 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Leif, I referred to Armstrong as part of recent cycling. He, his teammates and challengers like Alberto Contador are popping up in the mainstream media for doping allegations. Wether the allegations are true or false, cycling as a sport is a victim as well. The battle between competing sports is fought over the media these days. Therefore races like “de Ronde” are a win for cycling regardless of the eventual winner of the race itself.

leif April 3, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Whatever..I fucking love ballers!

leif April 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm

May the best baller win!

leif April 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Thumb war Tom….my thumb is Cancellara.

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