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 It was accurate… only years out of date.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.