Saturday, April 5, 2014

Fabian and Tom on the Mur de Gramont. It won't feature in this race but there will be plenty to take it's place. Photo credit: Steephill.TV
We are less than 5 hours to the start of one of the greatest bicycle races in the world. The 98th running of De Ronde Van Vlaanderen (The Tour of Flanders) will see 200 riders start the 259.1km long course from Brugge to Oudenaarde and battle each other and the cobbled roads of West Flanders. This is a rare contest where the climbs are nearly as famous as the riders who have won on them.
See all those spikes? Those are some of the nastiest climbs you can ever ride. The are not long, but with pitches that range from 9% to 22% they put the hurt on the field and many times decide the race. 
Names like the Oude Kwaremont, Koppenberg and Paterberg are as well known as former winners such as Merckx, Musseuw, De Vlaeminck, Planckaert, Van Hooydonk et al. One win in this monument can make a career for most riders (just ask Nick Nuyens). Tomorrow Belgian hero Tom Boonen goes for his fourth win on De Ronde, which would beat all of the aforementioned legends - hallowed ground to say the least. Fabian Cancellara and young Peter Sagan will have something to say about it of course, as may the weather which is always a wildcard. Tune in to at 1:30 tomorrow morning to watch the whole thing, or maybe sleep until around 6 am to watch the last 40 k or so and see how true hardmen ride. 

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