04 April 2011

Studying the Classics: Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour Of Flanders)

Photo source: Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour Of Flanders) public Flick'r album.  All rights reserved.

Location: Belgium. Date: 1st weekend in April. The scene: 20% of the country is watching a one day cycling classic on the telly. Cobbled climbs, crazy long distances, rabid fans out in the rain in a rugged event that most will not finish. Arguably the single COOLEST EVENT in all of cycling:


Q1. Defending champion Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) of Switzerland is the odds-on favorite to triumph again at the 2011 Ronde. The last riders to win this immensely challenging race back-to-back were Quick Step Belgian teammates Stijn Devolder in 2008 & 2009 and Tom Boonen in 2005 and 2006, which wrongly lends the impression that repeating here happens frequently. It does not. Prior to “Tommeke” and Stijn, who was the last back-to-back winner here?

Photo, left: Tour of Flanders 2010. Fabian Cancellara won the race and had enough time to pick up a Swiss flag from the crowd as he rode to victory.Source: Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour Of Flanders) public Flick'r album.  All rights reserved.

Q2. Flanders features a long gradual descent to the finish in Meerbeke and was a natural for the first use of a 12 tooth cog. Now an 11 tooth is standard for well-trained riders on lighter, stiffer, and more aerodynamic equipment but then it was a revelation, homemade in fact, and instrumental in a solo victory. Can you name the year and the rider of this technological breakthrough?

Q3. Only one rider won the Tour of Flanders and the now defunct World Cup Competition in the same year. Can you name him?


A1. Belgian Eric Leman in 1972 and 1973

A2. 1987, Claude Criquelion…a Walloon, who using a “secret equipment weapon”…a 12 tooth cog, broke away on the flat after the Bosberg because he “knew which way the wind blew” and wanted to be alone in a big gear! He incidentally also won the 71st edition wearing race number 71!

A3. Belgian Johan Museeuw in the year 1995.

Photo, right: all signs point to an exciting race. Source: Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour Of Flanders) public Flick'r album.  All rights reserved.

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