The Tour of Flanders is the second of the ‘Monument’ races and what a cracking race it is.
The parcours of this little piece of cycling lunacy is one of cobbles, narrow roads plus a little climb or two, that sometimes requires riders to dismount and carry their bikes up the hill. It is only the truly hard men of the peloton who stand any chance of winning this hard fought race.
So, what exactly did we learn from the 2013 Tour of Flanders?
It’s Freakin’ Cold in Belgium
Well, not really. I mean, it wasn’t snowing or anything. The race didn’t look like being cancelled, shortened or the riders getting a nice little bus ride half way through. In fact at around 4 degrees celsius, I would say it was positively balmy.
Could the ‘balmy’ weather be to blame for Boonen’s crash?
Poor Tommeke crashed his bike, or is he just too much of a weather effected Princess?
Milan San Remo may have gone something like this,
‘It’s too cold I can’t leave the bus. Surely we race team busses to the finish line?’
and then during Flanders,
‘What to wear? Will I need my leg and arm warmers all race?
You can’t expect me to be taking off and putting on clothing whilst hurtling my bike at break neck speeds over cobbles and through the narrow country roads of Belgium.
This is outrageous! I am Tom Boonen.
Where’s my Ferrari?’
Speaking of taking clothing on and off…
I did almost have to avert my very delicate little eyes from the television screen. I was watching SBS after all and had thought I’d stumbled onto one of those programs.
Was I watching bike racing or some form of male bicycle burlesque?
Leg warmers on, leg warmers off. Gloves on, gloves off.
Thankfully, the lads managed to stay appropriately rugged up till the end, but it did seem a little touch and go in places.
Aussies, Aussies, where art thou Aussies?
Apart from the fact that some Swiss bloke won the race, I would like to put forward an argument pertaining to the outstanding performance of the Aussies during the race.
Yep, the outstanding performance of the Aussies.
Firstly, congratulations to Heinrich Haussler for showing us all that a real hard man of the peloton does not need to wear gloves in such wintry, sorry, I mean, balmy conditions and that surely you can win this race from the back of the peloton.
The next example of outstanding Aussie representation comes from Sebastian Langevald, who as a Dutchy, is, well, actually an Australian. I have three words for you: Van Diemen’s Land, hence anyone Dutch is as close to a bone fide Australian as any man or woman you can find on the street with links to a convict past. Ok, he didn’t win, but he was our greatest hope.
Finally, Aussies were excellently represented in the break away. Surely Andre Greipel is at the very least a honourary Australian citizen, if not a full Australian citizen. I mean, the man owns the Tour Down Under.
Yep, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie.
Can we talk about men’s cycling fashions?
Winter bike riding does absolutely nothing for the fashion conscious cyclist. We all know how very fashionable and indeed, practical layering can be, but this is to the extreme.
These boys look like Michelin Men in lycra.
So, who are the fashionistas of the peloton and who are the fashion tragics?
Let’s start with the tragics.
The poor Astana riders look like they’re wearing old faded blue pajamas. In fact, they look a little like sky blue Ompaloompa’s, rather than the traditional orange skinned with green hair variety. I was almost expecting the Astana riders to break out into some sort of educational song about the dangers of riding on bike paths, instead of the allocated roads.
There were a couple of fashion winners on two wheels though.
I thought Sieberg’s little white and red booties were absolutely divine. I wasn’t so sure about the black leg warmers tucked into them, but please, these babies are surely the hottest things to hit cycling in a long time.
For the record, I think Moviestar have the smartest cycling outfit. The royal blue says formal and stately. It says ‘take us seriously’ and yet the hint of fluoro green for the ‘M’ says, ‘hey, we are glow stick waving, party boys just like you’. A fine balance.
Why are the cycling Gods against a Cancellara v Boonen showdown in Flanders?
Now, I don’t know who has upset the cycling Gods. All I can say is that it wasn’t me.
Last year Cancellara crashed out of the race and this year it was Boonen. A coincidence? I think not.
There is only one thing to be done to appease the Gods of Cycling.
Now, we all know that we can’t sacrifice some chump from the amateurs. Not even an underperforming World Champion who once carved the Classics up himself will do.
No. There is no other option.
It has to be Sagan we ceremoniously hand over to the Gods in some paganesque, type ritual.
Sorry Peter, but it’s for the good of mankind.
Speaking of Sagan…
A dramatic rivalry is played out before our very eyes.
Welcome Sagan and Cancellara to centre stage as this year’s inform contenders.
The drama was all there.
They toyed with each other all day. Spartacus with his Radioshack team driving the peloton and Sagan, trying to pretend he has a team but they never really hang out together, do they?
So, what is the Tour of Flanders really about?
Is it a battle over the cobble, through the mud and cold?
Is it a test for the hard men of the peloton?
It is a massive Easter Egg race.
He who wants chocolates eggs most goes hardest.
Who else would win an Easter Sunday bike race than the man who is more Swiss than Toblerone?
What chocolate products are the Slovaks known for? None. Nudder, zip, doughnuts.
Think about it, if a Belgium isn’t winning this chocolate feast day race it’ a Swiss.
This isn’t a battle of bike riders. It’s a battle of chocolate producing countries.
There’s a lot of pride on the line.
All the Easter Eggs go to Switzerland.
So, there we have another Tour of Flanders and what a great edition it was.
I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Easter and perhaps, unlike me, you are not battling a diabetic induced coma from trying to eat your body weight in chocolate eggs.
Published on The Roar 1st April, 2013