Friday, April 6, 2007

The Best Week in Cycling

This weekend starts what some consider to be the best week in all of road cycling. The 1-2-3 punch of:


Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), Sunday April 8
Gent - Wevelgem, April 11
Paris - Roubaix, Sunday, April 15.


There is calm before the race. A place like this chapel, at the top of the Muur, the second to last climb in the Tour of Flanders, is normally a place of peace, of contemplation.

But on race day, it is transformed. Add race barriers, 100s, maybe 1000s of die hard fans, the Lion of Flanders waving in the wind and you have the chaos that is the Spring Classics.



Look at how wide that path is. It's more of a sidewalk than a road. The race course appears to move into an even smaller space as it curves to the right at the top. Each of the 18 hills in the Rhonde presents an opportunity for an attack. Each one will cause riders to pop out of the lead group.


Notice anything about Quickstep and P-Lotto's lineups for Flanders:

Quickstep-Innergetic
1Tom Boonen (Bel)
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita)
3 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel)
4 Peter Van Petegem (Bel)
5 Kevin Van Impe (Bel)
6 Gert Steegmans (Bel)
7 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel)
8 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel)

Predictor-Lotto
11 Leif Hoste (Bel)
12 Stefano Zanini (Ita)
13 Johan Van Summeren (Bel)
14 Roy Sentjens (Bel)
15 Bert Roesems (Bel)
16 Björn Leukemans (Bel)
17 Wim Vansevenant (Bel)
18 Wim De Vocht (Bel)
7 Belgians and 1 Italian, each.

My prediction for Flanders- Tom Boonen. I know I'm not going out on a limb with this, but he looks very, very strong right now and this is Quickstep's domain. Quickstep will be sporting it's own 1-2-3 punch in Boonen, Bettini and Van Pategem. Boonen is especially motivated because this would be 3 in row.



If you don't watch alot of road cycling, these 3 races are the ones to watch, especially Flanders and P-R. There is something very unique about these races: their history, the riders who have conquered them as well as the riders that have been vanquished by them.

2 comments:

Christian said...

YUp, this week's the most important of the year.
Tomorrow I'm riding De Ronde for amateurs (not really a race, but it's the same itinerary). On sunday going over to a friend with a big plasma screen and some fine Belgian beers to watch the pros go at it. Can't wait. If all goes well (that means if Boonen wins) we'll end up partying till Monday morning in Balen (Boonen's hometown)

Great to find a fan across the Atlantic.

Christian in Belgium

fasterjim said...

Christian-

Thanks for reading. While Boonen didn't win, great race. Checked out your blog, but couldn't read it. I'm going to try to find a way to translate it.