The final climb of the Tour of Flanders, it is neither steep nor especially technical. It averages 5.5% and maxes at 11% and the cobbles are reasonable compared to the prior climbs. The photo above captures the moment when the cobbles start, in front of the sign. It will be tackled for the 38th time this Sunday.
“Bos berg” means “Wood hill” and it’s true that the climb heads up through a forest. Whilst it might not be as fearsome as other climbs, it is nevertheless crucial to the race, coming just 12km from the finish. Don’t think it’s easy because this time everyone’s got almost 250km in the legs. Unless a rider is in a state of grace, every cobble will hurt.
Someone hanging on to a small lead can see it vanish on this ramp. Someone on form can pull out more time on their rivals. Similarly a rider stuck with rivals can use the climb as a launchpad for a final attack if they fear losing out in a sprint.
Edwig van Hooydonck did this twice in 1989 and 1991, soloing to the finish and earning himself the nickname “Eddy Bosberg”. Van Hooydonck’s worth mentioning for three reasons. First, he was the first rider to use kneewarmers. Before it was either shorts or legwarmers with nothing in between but van Hooydonck set a trend that possibly went way beyond cycling. Next up, he left the sport as EPO use in the peloton become widespread, quitting as he felt no longer able to compete against those doping. Finally, he went in politics. He made a name for himself in the sport but didn’t to exploit this too much in his political career, he certainly didn’t become a celebrity politician.