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Tour of Flanders - Preview
 
By Podofdonny
Date: 4/2/2005
Tour of Flanders - Preview
 

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'Vlaanderens Mooiste', (Flanders most beautiful) is the all saying petname for this favorite of a race. The Tour de Flanders is one high upon everyone's wishlist to win. Just good legs are not enough; most, not to say everything, is about tactics. That and being able to manoeuvre around nicely and swiftly, routine, smartness, luck, attentiveness, best form and a large portion of guts for the narrow steep climbs. When it rains those hills will be even more difficult because of the slippery cobbles.

How it all began

The Tour of Flanders is the brain child of Karel Van Wynendaele. He was an unsuccessful race cyclist and abig fan of Cyriel Hauwaert. He earned his living by writing articles for local papers. He was impressed by the bicycle races: Paris-Bruxelles and Paris-Roubaix. In 1912 he was asked to cooperate on the creation of the newspaper "Sportwereld". Although cycling was rather in a dark period, Karel had a good eye in it. Publishing a national paper gave him the possibility to organize a bicycle race himself.

Henri Desgrange, the man of the Tour of France, was his great example and they met regularly. 1913 was the historic year of the first Tour of Flanders. It was a devilish tour of 330 kilometres. In those days such a large distance was common, not to mention the bad condition of the roads. Van Wynendaele was rather an emotional man and wanted his tour to pass through all the beautiful places of Belgium; Gent, Brugge, the coast and the heart of Flanders.


Last year's edition. Click for larger image. Courtesy Ronde van Vlaanderen.

The first tour was not at all a success. Only 37 race cyclists participated. One year later there were only 10 left. During the first world war it was impossible to organise the race and so it should be said that there was no future left for this young born child. But in 1919 Van Wynendaele came back. The circuit was more or less the same but for the first time the Kwaremont was included in the race. But again it failed. The sponsors stayed away. But the next year they did come, these French bicycle constructors, and so the international sympathy started to grow.

In 1923, Heiri Sutter, a Swiss, was the first foreign winner of the tour. During this period, other cycling races were held in Belgium, without no fame. Although the Tour of Flanders survived thanks to the perseverance of its organizers. In the years 1920, 1930, the Tour of Flanders became very famous, even in other countries. In the beginning the Tour of Flanders took place 14 days before Easter. This was often the same day as Milan-San Remo and so a lot of good Italian and French cyclists preferred Italy. Later on the Tour of Flanders was organized one week later, just before Paris-Roubaix. In 1939 "Sportwereld" and "Het Nieuwsblad" merged and so "Het Nieuwsblad" obtained all the rights for the organization of the Tour of Flanders.

After World War II "Het Nieuwsblad-Sportwereld" no longer existed. During this war, the paper was named "Het Algemeen Nieuws-Sportwereld" and some people accused them of collaboration. Because the Germans let Van Wynendaele organize his tour, the suspicion of collaboration became even stronger. Besides all this Het Volk started the "Omloop van Vlaanderen" and concurred the Tour. But Van Wynendaele took revenge. He even convinced the cyclists' union to change the name "Omloop van Vlaanderen" into "Omloop Het Volk" because of the strong resemblance to the name of the Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen).

A few years later Het Nieuwsblad-Sportwereld was republished and the Tour of Flanders was born again. Even more famous than the first time and with international interest! In 1947 the organizers of one-day bicycle races joined hands and the Desgrange-Colombo trophy was created. This was done not only out of self protection but also to put some pressure on the top cyclists to have them participate in all races. This trophy was really successful from the beginning on. As Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders became the brick paved classic of the North.

Eyes on the climbs

The Kluisberg has been asphalted since 1970. The climb is 1.100 metres, is at some parts 15% steep and sometimes is the in between finish line for those with less power and form. Further on the Knokteberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg are situated between 170 and 180 kilometres. The finale slowly starts developing. The Knokteberg is a 1.100 meter long narrow asphaltroad, 8% steep, and the warming up for the other two. After this the riders have some k.'s to reorganise.

The Oude Kwaremont starts off with 600 meter asphalt, followed by the 1600 meters cobbles to the top. There will be hardly time to recatch breath, the Patersberg is the next to be conquered. At this 350 meter, 12,5% steep narrow cobbles road, the form of all in the bunch show clearly.

The legendary Koppenberg got its comeback in 2003. Because of the increasing crowds the organisers for several years thought it was too dangerous. After the bad fall Jesper Skibby suffered in 1987 on the climb (Skibby's rear wheel was hit by a jury-car which was unable to pass by on the narrowed road) the Koppenberg disappeared from the Tour de Flanders. In the year 2002 the cobbles where re-installated, the crowds kept behind fences and after a tryout in 2003, where all went okay, so now the climb has to be overcome by the bunch.

The Berendries, with 223 k, gone under the wheels in Brakel, is the home-climb of former winner Peter van Petegem. A few miles to go in Geraardsbergen, the hardest climb of the day, the Muur awaits the riders. After the 2004 Tour the cobbles were replaced, cobbles now to be found only in the last half a k. The one to go over the top of the Bosberg most of the times too is one to be on one of the steps of the podium.

The climb gave two times winner Edwig van Hooijdonk his nickname. In his two victory years (1989 and 1991) Eddy "Bosberg" defeated his opponents in advance at this hill. After the Bosberg it is only less than ten kilometer over flat roads to the freeing finishline in Meerbeke.

The weather and roads

Nevertheless it is a misunderstanding that 75 percent of the circuit were cobblestones. Until the end of the fifties, half of the distance was cycle track or gravel. It was not at all a comfortable road but it was much better than the cobblestones beside. These cobblestoned roads were so different from the cobblestones we know nowadays. They were cut coarsely, laid unequally and centimetres apart. Before the second worldwar, only the more important roads improved. But during the economic redevelopment, the local governments changed almost every road into asphalt. The amount of cobblestones that at first seemed to be inexhaustible, alarmed the organizers as some important inclines were asphalted. They needed topographical cards and local people to help them find small country roads. It was primordial not to let the race end into a mass sprint. By searching cobblestones to have a typical circuit, the number of inclines in the tour grew. By this the Flemish Ardennes became the heart of the Tour of Flandres.

The Tour of Flanders has always been associated with terrible weather. It must be freezing or raining cats and dogs. It's great fun (for the spectators) if there is some melting snow or a hailstorm. The bad weather conditions were actually responsible for the identity of the Tour of Flanders. But you never can tell what it is going to be. The last years it has been nice and sunny. Only 30 percent of all tours were ridden in bad weather. Although it was these who made history! The most famous tours were won by Forenzo Magni in 1950 and 1951. The weather conditions were terrible. The performance of Eddy Merckx in 1969, riding 70 km in attack was even more legendary due to the bad weather. And in 1985 Eric Vanderaerden won and merely 24 cyclists arrived. Remember also Edwig Van Hooydonck as the last one to face bad weather in 1989 with his breakaway at the Bosberg.


The finish of the 2004 edition.  Click for larger image. Courtesy Ronde van Vlaanderen.


Click for much larger image.


Click for much larger image.


Click for larger image. Courtesy Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Rosters as of 2 April

T-Mobile Team

Kummer Mario
1 Wesemann Steffen
2 Aldag Rolf
3 Klier Andreas
4 Baumann Eric
5 Burghardt Marcus
6 Schreck Stephan
7 Ivanov Serguei
8 Zabel Erik
Giling Bastiaan
Pollack Olaf

Bouygues Telecom

Guiberteau Christian
11 Brochard Laurent
12 Mainguenaud Frédéric
13 Gene Yohann
14 Geslin Anthony
15 Kern Christophe
16 Renier Franck
17 Voeckler Thomas
18 Yus Kerejeta Unai
Chavanel Sébastien
Ravard Anthony

Cofidis

Deloeuil Alain
21 Casper Jimmy
22 Engoulvent Jimmy
23 Farazijn Peter
24 Koerts Jans
25 Marichal Thierry
26 O'grady Stuart
27 Scheirlinckx Staf
28 Vasseur Cédric
Coyot Arnaud
Tombak Janek

Credit Agricole

Beucherie Serge
31 Bodrogi Laszlo
32 Lemoine Cyril
33 Hinault Sébastien
34 Hushovd Thor
35 Kirsipuu Jaan
36 Lequatre Geoffroy
37 Patour Kilian
38 Wiggins Bradley
Herve Cédric
Nazon Damien

Team CSC

Gallopin Alain
41 Piil Jakob
42 Roberts Luke
43 Bak Lars Ytting
44 Michaelsen Lars
45 Breschel Matti
46 Johansen Allan
47 Bruun Eriksen Thomas
48 Gusev Vladimir
Arvesen Kurt-Asle
Lombardi Giovanni

Davitamon-Lotto

Frison Herman
51 De Vocht Wim
52 Mattan Nico
53 Steegmans Gert
54 Van Summeren Johan
55 Van Bon Leon
56 Van Petegem Peter
57 Vansevenant Wim
58 Vierhouten Aart
Kuyckx Jan
Roesems Bert

Discovery Channel

Demol Dirk
61 Armstrong Lance
62 Cruz Antonio
63 Devolder Stijn
64 Ekimov Viatcheslav
65 Hammond Roger
66 Hincapie George
67 Hoste Leif
68 Roulston Hayden
Barry Michael
Van Heeswijk Max

Domina Vacanze

Stanga Gianluigi
71 Cadamuro Simone
72 Celestino Mirko
73 Cortinovis Alessandro
74 Furlan Angelo
75 Lorenzetto Mirco
76 Ludewig Jörg
77 Jurco Matej
78 Nuritdinov Rafael

Euskaltel - Euskadi

Gerrikagoitia Gorka
81 Albizu Lizaso Joseba
82 Flores Galarza Iker
83 Herrero Llorente David
84 Isasi Flores Inaki
85 Landaluze Intxaurraga Inigo
86 Pena Iza Aketza
87 Silloniz Aresti Aitor
88 Luengo Celaya Anton
Fernandez Koldo
Silloniz Aresti Josu

Fassa Bortolo

Cenghialta Bruno
91 Aug Andrus
92 Baldato Fabio
93 Cancellara Fabian
94 Corioni Claudio
95 Flecha Giannoni Juan Antonio
96 Chicchi Francesco
97 Ongarato Alberto
98 Petito Roberto
Bossoni Paolo
Hauptman Andrej

Francaise Des Jeux

Madiot Marc
101 Auger Ludovic
102 Cooke Baden
103 Detilloux Christophe
104 Eisel Bernhard
105 Guesdon Frédéric
106 Mengin Christophe
107 Mourey Francis
108 Wilson Matthew

Gerolsteiner

Henn Christian
111 Haselbacher René
112 Hoj Frank
113 Förster Robert
114 Lang Sebastian
115 Krauss Sven
116 Wrolich Peter
117 Zberg Marcus
118 Ziegler Thomas
Fothen Markus
Haussler Heinrich

Illes Balears

Jaimerena José Luis
121 Pradera Rodriguez Mikel
122 Becke Daniel
123 Erviti Imanol
124 Galvez Lopez Isaac
125 Garcia Acosta José Vicente
126 Julia Cegarra Jose Cayetano
127 Leonet Iza Iker
128 Reynes Mimo Vicente
Arroyo Duran David
Carrasco Gamiz Jose Luis
Navas Chica David
Tauler Llull Antonio

Lampre-Caffita

Bontempi Fabrizio
131 Ballan Alessandro
132 Bennati Daniele
133 Bonomi Giosuč
134 Bortolami Gianluca
135 Commesso Salvatore
136 Fornaciari Paolo
137 Franzoi Enrico
138 Pieri Dario
Marzoli Samuele
Righi Daniele

Liberty Seguros-Wurth Team

Diaz Zabala Herminio
141 Barredo Llamazales Carlos
142 Davis Allan
143 De Kort Koen
144 Hernandez Jesus
145 Kemps Aaron
146 Paulinho Sergio Miguel Moreira
147 Santos Martinez Ivan
148 Sanchez Gil Luis Leon

Liquigas-Bianchi

Mariuzzo Dario
151 Backstedt Magnus
152 Gerosa Mauro
153 Loda Nicola
154 Ljungqvist Marcus
155 Albasini Michael
156 Righetto Marco
157 Sironi Gianluca
158 Zanotti Marco
Carlström Kjell
Gasparotto Enrico

Phonak Hearing Systems

Savary René
161 Clerc Aurélien
162 Elmiger Martin
163 Grabsch Bert
164 Guidi Fabrizio
165 Hunter Robert
166 Murn Uros
167 Gutierrez Cataluna Ignacio
168 Rast Grégory
Aebersold Niki
Jalabert Nicolas

Quick Step - Innergetic

Peeters Wilfried
171 Lotz Marc
172 Boonen Tom
173 Cretskens Wilfried
174 Hulsmans Kevin
175 Knaven Servais
176 Nuyens Nick
177 Pozzato Filippo
178 Tankink Bram
Bramati Davide
Trenti Guido

Rabobank

Maassen Frans
181 Freire Gomez Oscar
182 Dekker Erik
183 Den Bakker Maarten
184 De Jongh Steven
185 Boven Jan
186 Kroon Karsten
187 Löwik Gerben
188 Wauters Marc
Hayman Mathew
Sentjens Roy

Saunier Duval-Prodir

Algeri Pietro
191 Bertogliati Rubens
192 Canada Gracia David
193 Gomez Gomez Angel
194 Quinziato Manuel
195 Ravaioli Ivan
196 Tafi Andrea
197 Ventoso Alberdi Francisco José
198 Zaballa Gutierrez Constantino

AG2R Prevoyance

Mas Gilles
201 Gerrans Simon
202 Mangel Laurent
203 Portal Nicolas
204 Pütsep Erki
205 Scanlon Mark
206 Usov Alexandre
207 Vaitkus Tomas
208 Mondory Lloyd
Nazon Jean-Patrick

Chocolade Jaques-T Interim

Heynderrickx Jean-Pierre
211 Eeckhout Nico
212 Van Impe Kevin
213 Ghyllebert Pieter
214 De Schrooder Benny
215 Willems Frederik
216 Van Speybroeck Wesley
217 Van Der Linden Wesley
218 Barbe Koen
Kleynen Steven
Stubbe Tom

Landbouwkrediet-Colnago

Criquielion Claude
221 Capelle Ludovic
222 Dierckxsens Ludo
223 De Waele Bert
224 Verheyen Geert
225 D'hollander Glenn
226 Van De Walle Jurgen
227 Vanlandschoot James
228 Criquielion Mathieu
De Groote Thierry
Verstrepen Johan

Mrbookmaker.Com-Sports Tech

Van Der Schueren Hilaire
231 Boucher David
232 Coenen Johan
233 Gardeyn Gorik
234 Hunt Jeremy
235 Pronk Matthé
236 Thijs Erwin
237 Trouve Kristof
238 Castresana Del Val Angel
Omloop Geert
Van Dijck Stefan

Team Wiesenhof

Petermann Andreas
241 Poitschke Enrico
242 Grabsch Ralf
243 Kopp David
244 Lochowski Roberto
245 Siedler Sebastian
246 Knees Christian
247 Müller Martin
248 Greipel André
Obst René
Wackernagel Lars


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