Tour of Flanders: The Moment The Race Was Won

Ballan attack Flanders Ronde Vlaanderen

The first 210km of the race were dominated by a series of crashes, accidents and bizarre incidents. Riders fell, most notably Fabian Cancellara. It was not until the final 40km that the race came alive.

Then with 18km when Alessandro Ballan went clear on the Oude Kwaremont and – as the picture shows – Tom Boonen and Filippo Pozzato rode across to him. This was the moment the race was won.

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Highlights of 2011 – Part II

Five moments from 2011. They are a personal choice like any list sometimes you omit more than you include but I’ll explain each moment. They’re presented in no particular order.

What does it feel like to win a big race? Well the video clip above gives you a clue. It is the Tour of Flanders and Nick Nuyens wins for Saxo Bank. The race itself was great to watch, a battle that provide surprises all the way to the finish.

But one addition was the use of cameras inside the team cars. A small innovation, you’d think video footage of a man driving a car would be dull and normally you’d be right. But the cameras caught the action from the Saxo Bank team car with Bjarne Riis and Tristan Hoffman momentarily going beserk with joy.

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No more Muur

The finish of the 2012 Tour of Flanders will change from Meerbeke to Oudenaarde. If you’re not familiar with these places, Meerbeke isn’t famous for much whilst Oudenaarde is more at the heart of Flanders and is home the museum of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen too.

Top of the muur
See the image, hear the sound

The race itself is arguably the king of one day races thanks to a combination of distance, the climbing and emotional and knowledgeable roadside crowds. For many years the epicentre of action has been the Kapelmuur. It’s so good they named it twice as others call it the Muur van Geraardsbergen. The locals say “the Muur choses the winner” and like many sayings, this isn’t always the case but it makes sense.

But the story of the 2012 race isn’t so much the change of the finish town but the new route. Next year the race will not visit the Muur and nor the Bosberg too.

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Five things I saw in Flanders

Flanders podium

What a race!

Prior to the Tour of Flanders I wrote above five things to look for, in particular Gilbert seemed to run out of luck, puncturing at a bad time and team-wise, BMC were collectively strong but it was Quick Step’s Chavanel-Boonen tandem that seemed the strongest, although that failed to deliver what they wanted. Plus Stijn Devolder once again stood out for his “interesting” positioning, once minute off the back, the next minute barging off the front.

Now after the race, a few things to reflect on after the race…

Team car TV

Saxo car

The in-car TV footage from the Tour of Flanders worked for me. I was sceptical but the production skills made it great.

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Five things to watch in Flanders

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 … Read more

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.

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The Muur van Geraardsbergen

Kapelmuur start

The penultimate climb of the Tour of Flanders is so good they named it twice. Some call it the Kapelmuur, some call it the Muur van Geraardsbergen but it’s the same thing. In fact there’s also the French name, the Mur de Grammont. Either way it is a decisive climb for the race.

Two names, two climbs
Kapel means chapel, muur means wall so it’s either the “Chapel wall” or the Wall of Geraardsbergen. There is only one route to the top but it has two parts. First the riders cross the Dender river and then head into the city of Geraardsbergen. No metropolis, it is has city status from medieval times.

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Sunday morning in Flanders

This promotional video for Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad was doing the rounds last year but a comment from a reader mentioned it and I think it’s worth a mention in its own right, especially if you did not see it last year. The road graffiti saying “God is terug” means “God is back”.