This is the biggest two weeks in Belgian cycling, starting with the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde (Three Days of De Panne) tomorrow through Thursday, the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) this Sunday, Gent-Wevelgem next Wednesday (April 8th) and culminating in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, April 12th.
Of course, many of us with a Flandrien bent favor this Sunday’s Ronde with its cobbled hills over the pancake flat course in France the following weekend, but both races are epics and almost never fail to be be exciting …
What makes these races special? It’s the cobbles, the pavé … the big freakin’ rocks that make up sections of the roads and the racing so difficult. It’s (hopefully) the miserable spring weather in Belgium that makes it even more difficult.
These are the weeks where the Flahutes show what they’re made of … from Frenchman Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle’s amazing sprint against Franco Ballerini in 1993 and Andrei Tchmil’s traffic island bunny-hop in 1994 on the roads to Roubaix to Stijn Devolder’s perfect solo attack in the Belgian driekleur (tri-color) Belgian National Championship jersey to win the Ronde in 2008 … a bigger feat than winning the Tour de France or the World Championships for a Belgian.
Bring on the cobbles … bring on the rain … bring on the Belgians!