Monday, June 17, 2024

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011

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HomeDiariesKuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne used to be the ‘revenge match’ for Gent-Gent (Het Nieuwsblad); after poor showings in Saturday’s race, QuickStep usually rode on Sunday with great panache to salvage the weekend — they did this with Nuyens in ’06, Boonen in ’07 & ’09 and brilliantly with de Jongh in ’08.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Tom Boonen.

In this year’s finale all of the survivors were sitting looking at Boonen to react when Rabobank Langeveld (the same fellow who won Gent-Gent on Saturday) went clear; Quickstep’s de Jongh countered and Lefevre, knowing that his boy would get the better of the Dutchman in the sprint told his floor layers to sit up and have a ‘blow.’

Riders who had been sitting pretty waiting for the sprint realised that they had to chase hard — but it was too late.

It was the classic double bluff swerve by Lefevre, turning the situation around in a blink.

Last year the race was a victim of horrendous weather but still produced a great winner in Bobby Traksel — this year, well…

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011.
Bobby Traksel features on the posters this year.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
And finished a respectable 13th this year.

A number of factors have to be considered, the weather was kind — cold but calm with no killer crosswinds or rain; but another factor is that so many riders are coming in to the race in great condition and there’s little to choose between them.

Many of the riders have ridden the Tour Down Under, San Luis, Oman, Qatar or Langkawi; and the early races in Europe are no longer ‘training’ they’re full on, brutal.

Kristian House told me recently that he started his season with 7,500 kilometres in his legs — and that’s for a largely domestic UK programme.

Maybe the organisers at Kuurne have to change the parcours?

Lose one — or both — of the finishing circuits, keep the riders out on the cobbles and bergs for longer and shorten the run-in?

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
We joined the An Post convoy to the start.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Russ Downing was 18th yesterday in Het Niuewsblad.

We had more time to ‘bike skek’ at Kuurne but it took us a while to get our bearings, the wee teams all used to park up at the football pitches whilst the ‘big guns’ were in a compound near the start.

This year however, there were few teams at the football pitches and the compound was being used for a gymkhana — the team buses were all parked up on the main road instead; but by the time we sussed that out the start was approaching.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Waiting for the start.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Ed and Callum pose beside a big beer – not for the first time this weekend.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
VR pal John Young and his monopod.

We caught up with Hamish Haynes, looking good in his new Colba-Mercury team strip — he’s put in a mega winter and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the results for him.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Hamish Haynes.

James Spragg was looking good too, his QIN team has morphed into Donckers Koffie; the QIN jersey was a bit ‘different’ and almost worked, but this year’s jersey is cool, if conventional.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
James Spragg.

The budget at Donckers is good, with a nice bus and some strong riders — Kevin Hulsmans, Kurt Hovelynck, Huub Duyn and Tom Stubbe.

Kuurne still has that ‘race of the people’ feel with little police control or corporate schmooze-type-goings-on and a generally laid back, friendly vibe — we like it.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Rabobank DS Erik Dekker was relaxed and happy – ten wins by the end of February does that to a man.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
One of the many bookies.

We caught the early break on the Edelare — which is just the drag out of Oudenaarde on the way to Brakel — and four were away but soon to be DQ-ed for ‘risking their lives’ at a level crossing.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
The general feeling is that the guys in the break were treated a bit harshly – the barriers at the level crossing hadn’t started to move when they went through.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Once the break was removed, it was a full peloton which made it to the finish.

Andy Fenn was giving the AN Post jersey a good airing between the break and bunch — our pal Viktor doesn’t like their Dolan bikes, but I do.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Andy Fenn.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
The An Post Dolan’s.

The Oude Kwaremont was in bountiful mood for 2011, blue skies, little wind and dry cobbles — last year it was like standing at the gates of Hell.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Dan Lloyd.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Stijn Devolder.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Tommy Voeckler.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Ian Stannard.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011
Irish Champ and new HTC recruit Matt Brammeier.