The Bosberg


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.

edwig van hooydonck
Made in Bosberg

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.

3 thoughts on “The Bosberg”

  1. My foggy memory was Edwig was one of the first to wear bib-knickers. Were they really only knee warmers added to standard bib-shorts? It seemed like soon after these races most of the clothing importer/distributors (in the USA anyway) were showing bib-knickers for the first time and they were “all the rage” among customers at the bike shop I worked at…we couldn’t keep ’em in stock for awhile. When it’s less than warm and sunny outside I have to admit reaching into the drawer for a pair of Santini’s bib-knickers, made from a thicker, fuzzy-on-the-inside fabric most refer to as “roubaix” more often than not. These keep me warm on all but the coldest days but when/if it does finally warm up, they’re still comfortable – at least until the temps get into the mid to high 70’s F. Eddy Bosberg created another, though shorter-lived fad, the “dropped top tube” frame design Colnago made for him. We had customers wanting those even if they had nowhere near the leg-length of Eddy!

  2. Eddy Bosberg, one of the greatest nicknames in cycling. I hope he has that on his headstone when he dies. Not a particular favourite of mine at the time, although riding for Superconfex/Buckler always helped, as the layers have peeled off the 90’s he’s now become someone I’ll think of as a great, primarily for being seemingly one of the few from the early EPO-era to have any principals at all, even more-so when coming from one of the countries leading EPO-use.

  3. Train covered, race naked.

    Remember a racer who lived in a crappy little shack on top of the Bosberg. No heat, no hot water, no frills. Potato and ketchup dinners, blah, blah, blah… I’m pretty sure he rode better than the lot of us and never complained once whilst living the dream.

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