Friday, May 24, 2024

Het Nieuwsblad 2010 goes to Flecha


HomeDiariesHet Nieuwsblad 2010 goes to Flecha

It was a difficult phone call to make, he picked up on the tone of my voice at once; ‘no, don’t tell me, please!

But it was best he heard it from me; ‘Flecha, he won it well, Viktor, sorry!

That’s it, I’m finished with Pro Cycling, for good!

Het Nieuwsblad
A worthy attention to detail, a marginal gain, a waste of money, or just cool?

Team SKY’s first classic win didn’t go down well with Vik – for that matter, it didn’t go down well with our fellow tele watchers in that bar near Brakel, either.

Het Nieuwsblad
Tom goes in as one of the favourites.
Het Nieuwsblad
We catch up with newly retired Bert Roessems on the Berendries.

And according to Cyclingnews, it’s the first time in the history of the event that a Belgian didn’t make the podium.

Best Belgian was AN Post’s indestructible ‘Rambo,’ Niko Eeckhout in seventh place; 39 years-old and leaving Boonen, Gilbert and Nuyens behind him.

Het Nieuwsblad
If a cop tells you to behave here, you do.

The headline in the Sunday’s Sport Wereld section of Het Nieuwsblad is “Voor Frank” – the Spaniard dedicated his win to Frank Vandenbroucke.

Het Nieuwsblad
For Frank, says JA.

Respect to Juan Antonio.

Flecha was born in Buenos Aires, last year’s winner, Hushovd was born in Arendal, Norway – the winners are getting further and further away form the Heartland.

It’s 07:20 in Gent, Sunday – outside, it looks like there’s a man playing a hose off the roof, it’s apocalyptic.

Het Nieuwsblad
Race radios or not, it’s good to know well in advance when the climbs are coming up.

There was talk yesterday that Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne might be cancelled today, due to high winds; there’s no sign of them yet – but there’s still plenty of time, the race doesn’t start ’til noon.

But I’m ahead of myself; the four degrees that greeted us at Charleroi on Friday afternoon felt positively mild.

Dave rattled the Peugeot 207 hire car up around the Brussels ring road and we were soon skeking the hardware at the Holiday Inn, Gent.

Het Nieuwsblad
Leonardo Fabio Duque inspects his bike.

Carbon continues to be king with the six teams staying there – AG2R, F des J, Rabobank, Sojasun, AN Post and Cofidis all on composites.

Sojasun’s Gitane Definitives are cool – they’re white, which is this year’s colour – but they are different; sculpted, nice cable routing, great decals.

We’ll be doing a feature on this year’s team bikes, within the next few weeks – I’ll have to do something with all these pics!

Het Nieuwsblad
There’s no problem recognising the Cofidis LOOKs.

After the last bike had been skeked, Friday night was spent at de Karper; Iljo Keisse’s dad’s bar – we met up with our chum, “Belgian Aussie” Dirk Van Hove – John Young was there and Stuart Anthony too.

Het Nieuwsblad
The cops are more sympathetic to cyclists here, naturally.

Saturday morning was wet and miserable, Viktor would have been disappointed in Dave; my driver stayed in bed whilst I did the newspaper collection run to the station.

Sport Wereld and Sport Krant both had Boonen and Boasson Hagen as ‘super favourites’ with Flecha getting no mention from either journal.

Given that he was third here last year and second in 2007 and with the fresh motivation of being on the best funded team on the planet, maybe we should all have paid him more attention.

But I’m ahead of myself, again.

Het Nieuwsblad
A FdesJ mechanic preps the cars – ‘these white cars needs to look white’.

Saturday morning was miserable in Gent, wind and rain – I cracked and bought a 15 euro Saxo Bank brolly.

Dave is ‘anti-umbrella’ but he did sneak closer to me as the downpour went critical mass.

It wasn’t a day for chatting to riders, all of whom hid in the busses ’til the last minute.

Het Nieuwsblad
We caught sight of big George Hincapie and a few others, but that was about it.

We did get a chat with Radio Shack’s new head mechanic, Kiwi Craig Geater; we’ve stalked him through a few teams – CSC, Disco, Astana and now, ‘The Shack.’

His tip was their boy Sebastien Rosseler, Craig said that he was in towering form, putting time into a flying peloton to win a stage at the Algarve.

Het Nieuwsblad
Lance and Johan rate our pal Craig highly enough to take him from team to team with them.

Dirk Van Hove was our chauffeur for the day.

Het Nieuwsblad
Lotto idolatory.

It was a great day, the van had race creds, so were able to drive the course and Dirk having the lingo was a big plus.

Het Nieuwsblad
Dirk’s a local, but we still needed to check the best shortcuts.

The early parcours are pan flat, with long, long straight concrete section roads – and no shelter from the wind.

The riders have a couple of hours of flat road big gear riding before the hills start.

Het Nieuwsblad
Tyler looks comfy in the bunch.

And when that happens, there’s no respite; berg follows berg and then the finale has the cobbles.

Het Nieuwsblad
It’s no problem keeping up with the action when you’re out on the course – everyone has TVs rigged up outdoors.

Boonen was hugely impressive – but he punctured twice.

Het Nieuwsblad
Tomeke on the Berendries, but it wasn’t his lucky day.

Nuyens too looked strong but three punctures did for his chances – we saw him ride several kilometres on the rim, his front wheel snaking and twitching over the cobbles.