Allan Peiper and Geert Van Bondt took the Classics crew out in Flanders to recon the race changes for this year and sent this report.
Today was our second attempt to get an early glimpse of the Tour of Flanders course. We had a recon planned for late December but the weather was too bad so we had to cancel.
Today was not much better at minus two (Celsius) and light snow falling at daybreak. We met at the Tour of Flanders museum in Oudenaarde. Our Classics director sportif Geert Van Bondt planned well for the weather and also had the course logged in on the Garmin 800 of three of the six riders so even though there was no signs up we could follow the course using our Garmins!
Geert brought Tyler from Gent and Johan Van Summeren came with Thomas Dekker. Maaskant brought Haussler who came yesterday by train from Germany. Sep Van Marke lives 10kms from Oudenaarde where we started the ride at the museum. So six seasoned pro’s and me, the 52 year old Sporting Manager. (Luckily Geert was behind in the car!)
The boys went out of the blocks for the last 150km of the course because of the cold and after 5km we hit the Taaienberg followed by the Eikenberg. We did six climbs and four sections of cobbles before a long 35km section which is normally head wind before we started on the final three laps. Three times over the Kwaremont and Patersberg with a variation of other climbs each lap and 10kms flat to the finish.
I climbed off after 80km to get out of their way! Most said it would be a lead heavy race with so many hard climbs in the final. We had spaghetti at the museum after showers and a talk about the race but mostly Summie and Dekker were telling silly jokes. It will be fun with those two clowns this year!
All in all it was great to see the course, to talk about the changes and how the race may go — but best of all was hanging with the boys on the bike for some time because that’s really what its all about, just riding!
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