2 April, 2024

De Ronde and Dwars door Vlaanderen. A religion in Flanders

religion /rɪˈlɪdʒən/  [uncountable] the belief in the existence of a god or gods, and the activities that are connected with the worship of them.

 

Flanders. March 2024. Thousands of pilgrims arrive in the holy land to enjoy more than a week adoring a single idol, one which doesn’t have the name of a cyclist, not even the name of a team, it is Cycling itself. Cycling in its purest form is not just a sport in Flanders: cycling runs in the blood of anyone who was born here. Everyone who comes from outside wants to live the full experience: the camper van, the cooler, the TV screen, the beers, the raincoat, the rain boots, hats, face paint, flags. Welcome to the grand festival.

 

Exciting days begin that will culminate on the fourteenth Sunday of the year: the Sacred Sunday, the Tour of Flanders.

 

The period between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix (just the following Sunday) is known as the Holy Week. But for the devoted, this Week goes much further. Since cycling returns home after being in Italy, the races that will precipitate the end of spring begin to happen in an escalation of tension. There are several queens these days: Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix, AGR, La Flèche Wallone or LBL. Every person has its favorite; the saints of cycling are not jealous of each other. But we cannot deny that the Ronde occupies a higher altar.

So, we tend to think that the races preceding the big ones are simply tests or warm-up sessions. Last Wednesday showed that these “smaller” races can be, and in fact they are, more decisive than we think. Dwars door Vlaanderen (Across Flanders) was definitely decisive: a crash half race, with some Lotto members involved, dashed some expectations; many of those who were favorites for the big Sunday had to bid farewell. We wish everyone a speedy and full recovery.

 

One of the guys involved, Brent Van Moer, did start this Sunday, despite the discomfort, with great motivation:

“We’re even more determined to have a good race, and I really want to show something again. So, bring it on.”

The whole team is equally motivated, the enormous gear that works around is perfectly lubricated.

After the route recon and the experience accumulated by the Lotto-Orbea couple, the choice for the Tour of Flanders has once again been Orca Aero.

MOLEMBERG, KAPELMUUR OR KWAREMONT demand a frame that is stiff in the right places so that it resists twisting and transfers more of your watts to the rear wheel. Your power converted to speed.

De Ronde started in Antwerp with a radiant sun, a sun that would end up turning into a copious and constant rain towards the end of the race. The mud covered the cobblestone, making it so slippery that only three riders managed to reach the top of the Koppenberg on their pedals at one of the crucial moments of the race.

Pure Flanders and spectacle in the final climbs up the muurs. Earlier, Taminiaux, who would later be joined by Van Moer, showed the determination they assured to have in the previous days. Always in the front with the best, they kept the dream alive for a large part of the long day.

 

The papers may not write their names on the covers today, but the team can and should be very proud of how they handled this Ronde savage. Meanwhile, we haven’t stopped thinking of Arnaud. Courage, our friend, the season is very long and, as you well know: it’s not how it starts, it is how it ends.

Seven days left for Paris-Roubaix, in between, Scheldeprijs and a lot of hope in the legs.

Orca Aero

Molemberg, Kapelmuur or Kwaremont demand a frame that is stiff in the right places so that it resists twisting and transfers more of your watts to the rear wheel. Your power converted to speed.