The Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders if you don’t speak Flemish or Dutch) takes place tomorrow. It is one of my favourite races of the year. One of the reasons that I like it so much is that it very rarely throws up a lucky winner. The combination of cobbles and short very steep hills almost always seems to ensure that the strongest rider wins.
To give you a taste of what is to come here is Fabian Cancellara winning last years race. The commentary is in Flemish, which I think adds to the atmosphere.
It is easy to see how the (false) rumour that he had an electric motor hidden in his down tube started when you watch him attack on the Kapelmuur. The rider in the Belgian Champions Jersey that he leaves for dead is Tom Boonen.
I got quite excited last year because for a little while I thought there was a possibility of the first British winner since Tom Simpson. David Millar made a strong attempt to get across to Boonen and Cancellara on the run to the Muur van Geraardsbergen and for a while it looked as if he might make it, but he didn’t quite have the legs. There are a couple of shots where the camera flicks back to the chasers. He is the rider being dropped.
As for this years race, if you have put your money on any one to win it has to be Cancellara. He was impressive last weekend winning the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen – Harelbeke, and it is difficult to see past him. Thor Hushovd is more focused on next weekend’s Paris-Roubaix which he has already stated that he would love to win while wearing the Rainbow Jersey. Phillipe Gilbert, while not without a chance, is probably building his form to peak for Liège-Bastogne-Liège where he has a better chance to win.
However, impressive as Cancellara was winning last weekend, Tom Boone was as impressive winning Gent-Wevelgem last Sunday. I’m not saying he will win, but he has form, and being Flemish, he will always be up for it.
So tomorrow it will all be played out on the 256 km road to Meerbeke. Unfortunately I can’t be where I would like to be, near the top of the Kapelmuur, so I will have to see if I can find a live feed on the internet instead.
I will be drinking Belgian Beer for the duration of the weekend to help with generating the proper ambience.