Monday, September 21, 2009

Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen


The Flanders Championship was happening near Ardooie so I headed over. I was familiar with the area because I rode out there for the Eneco Tour.

I got to Ardooie about two hours later. People were already set up on both sides of the road.

The mechanic from Quick Step was there gluing tires.

For some reason they had a Cervelo on top of one of the team cars.

I rode along until I came to some volunteers. They said it was five euro to enter the city center. I told them I’d come back and rode off to mull it over.

After a good mulling I returned and paid my dues. Then, I headed toward the Start.

The betting was already under way in the city center.

This guy asked me who I thought would win. I said I thought Baden Cooke had a good shot since he’d won it twice. He thought it was going to be a Rabobank rider. We were both wrong.

On the bottom board he had the odds for the upcoming Worlds. All the bookies had odds up for both races. If I were a betting man I’d put my money on Cunego.

Shortly after I stumbled upon the Start.

Minutes later they were all fighting for starting positions like Cat 3 phenoms.

The gun went off and the race began. I rolled back to the other side of the course. Once there I followed in the Belgian kermis tradition of riding the course in reverse. The course was 10k so I figured I’d get some more k’s in while I watched.

Ten minutes later the lead cars came through. I rode up a bit further to catch them at the roundabout. A guy waved at me to get off the fietspad (bike path). Yeah, like they’re going to come on the bike path.

Seconds later they came through.

I moved off the bike path just in time to get out of the way. They were using every inch of road available. A Skil-Shimano rider crashed but got back on and rode off.

I continued around the course. The next lap a break had formed with Mancebo amongst others.

The fans were out in force on all sides of the course. There were also beer tents set up at several points. I came to a 1k cobbled section.

The trick with cobbles is to keep it in a big gear and go as fast as possible. If you do this they’ll still rock you, but less.

I rode around the course a few more times. I stop off to catch them come through a neighborhood.

I love it. Right down some suburban street. Notice the kids on the trampoline in the background.

On the other side of the course I notice this Lone Wolf awaiting the peloton.

I watch a bit more before deciding it’s time to get out of dodge. I’m getting hungry so I look for grub. There are frites near the Start but they don’t have Samurai sauce (spicy mayo) so I skip it. I end up with something much less appetizing.

It’s some sort of fish jerky which in theory is nice. However, it’s riddled with bones and just doesn’t cut it. I decide to head to Brugge instead of back to Gent. Along the way I stop off for some proper grub at a grocery store.

Brugge is about 20k away so it doesn’t take that long to get there. Brugge is a really beautiful city.

I go to this cafĂ© I like and order a cappuccino. Bam! I hop back on the bike and head home. Belgium’s been good to me.

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