Monday, April 2, 2012

Reactions to the new route change

So at this point, since the race is over for this year, I will be adding to the blog sporadically after this post and then pick it up again as the season starts next year. This has been a lot of fun and I have met some really cool folks through putting this thing together.

So my take on the race this year was a little surprising. I truly missed the Muur and Bosberg and like so many others felt I watched a good race but not the Tour of Flanders. I enjoyed rooting for Boonen on the final ascent of the Paterberg and seeing him just hang on was priceless. It was great to see him win his 3rd  but I feel this course just does not have the mystique of the old one. I hated the finishing straight. It was just too straight. The headwind and the jockeying for position in the last km's did not help either.

Below are others reactions. I hated Graham Watson's comment because it hints at what I fear the most. Once a tradition is broken the race finish can be bought and sold with little regard to tradition. That would be so sad. 

Here is a link to a great article by cyclesport on the course change and also Cervelo boss Gerard Vroomen weighed in 

(and this without Flanders Grammond? What do you think?)


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reason 31: The people of Belgium have spoken

In a recent poll run by Het Nieuwsblad, 82% out of 3060 respondents feel that the finish in Oudenaarde is the wrong move.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Reason 30: Michele Bartoli gets it

My friend @Wielergekblog shot me this tweet from 1996 Ronde Champ Michele Bartoli. 
During his run Bartoli was one of my favorite riders.

Reason 29: It is featured in the Tour of Flanders Museum
If the Muur is featured in the museum it would stand to reason it is a pretty big part of the history of the race and should be kept in place as part of the race.

The Muur van Geraardsbergen does not feature in 2012.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reason 28: Stijn Devolder and Peter Van Petegem get it

“If you had changed the route 30 years ago it would maybe not have been big news, but now the race is international – it’s shown on TV all over the world and everybody in cycling is always talking about it.” - Van Petegem

“The Muur was unique – there’s never going to be a final like that without the Muur.” - Devolder

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reason 27: Protests

When the organizers decided to move the route they had to realize that protests (in Dutch, which I cannot speak a word of) would ensue. 
People are too passionate about our sport in this region to not freak out. 


There have been accusations of mayors writing letters to their aldermen telling them not to go, and the residents of Geraardsbergen are even contemplating a protest on the Oude Kwaremont. Gotta love the passion of these folks.

Obviously, no route change = no protests and no problems. The organizers are getting what they asked for with the possible protests and bad publicity. That being said I also I believe that it would be ridiculous and a shame if the protests became violent or impacted the race adversely.

The only thing that will help stem the protests will be an awesome race on Sunday. God help them if the race sucks.

Thanks to Wielerg@k (@Wielergekblog)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Reason 26: Psycho's come out.

This is not really a reason but more of an exasperation.

Someone actually sent the Mayor of Oudenaarde a threatening letter suggesting that tacks will be thrown onto the route.


 I agree with @SSBike in his tweet "they are not fans"

While I may think the route should revert back to a previous state, lets be real here. It is a race we love and want to see happen at its highest possible level. If some mook decides to ruin the race by doing something this stupid, they should be drug up and down the Muur and Bosberg until their skin is ripped from their bones. That is all.

Article here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Reason 25: The list of towns 
between the Muur and the finish Ninove-Meerbeke

So here is the logic. Not all of these are on the old course but they are close in proximity to the old finishing route. Therefore they probably had some economic impact given to them from the old race and the amateur event. Now that income or spending money is gone.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reason 24: Weaker looking photographs

Graham Watson and Kristof Ramon took some photographs at the 2012 E3 Prijs Vlaanderen. The photos did not do the Muur or the people of Geraardsbergen any favors. 
Obviously when the Muur is not in a decisive position during a big race it does not look near as exciting and important.

The E3 Harelbeke race went up the Muur van Geraardsbergen today...a sacred landmark in Flemish cycling...


Also check out Kristof Ramon's shots here:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Reason 23: More Passion

The people of Geraardsbergen are venting again. This video is awesome.
Passion like this should not be denied!
I have no idea what they are saying but it looks like they are MAD...and drunk.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Reason 22: Charging fans 
In my purely fan based opinion, viewing the race from any location along the road should be a free  (no cost) affair. I believe that keeping the race in a point to point format reduces the opportunity for race directors to create sections blocked off from the average fan. Keeping the Muur and Bosberg forces the course to remain spread out and thus helps prevent the creation of a lot of VIP sections along the course.


"The Tour of Flanders could lead the path to a new business model, in 
which the money earned and spent will be different from the way it is now."

Reason 21: Reduced role during the classics season.

The fact that the following statement was issued by the Omega Pharma Quick Step Team's twitter stream during the GPE3 Harelbeke and will not be able to be contradicted during the Tour of Flanders stinks.
Makes me sad that the Muur will not be given a greater role at a later time. 

When this statement was made in the past I would think..."Yeah but wait until April..." 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reason 20: The "New Logic" in route planning has some scary implications.

"If the new route is succesful, the Ronde could set an example for all one 
day classics. To race from A to B doesn't have much longevity no more" -The director of Flanders Classics, Wouter Vandenhaute

 If the quote above does not literally scare the living shit out of you then I do not know what will.  

I mount my soapbox now. Check out the similarity in look and feel between Amstel and Flanders below. Kind of wild. Amstel really has no choice to organize the race as they do, because they race in an area the size of a postage stamp. But for other classics to adopt an "up the same climb multiple times" philosophy, I believe, puts in jeopardy what so many of us love about point to point racing. That being the varied nature of the route and the inability to know exactly what is coming next under racing conditions. When riders race up the same climb multiple times in the same race they become accustomed to it and understand it better and therefore the course becomes less a factor than the condition of the rider. Some may argue that the point is indeed to find the best or strongest rider, so who cares where they race in Flanders, just as long as it is still held in Flanders and we maximize fan interaction. However I disagree to some degree here. What makes a Spring Classic great is the ability for the rider to conquer not only the other riders, but also conquer a course that engages the geography to the maximum, fans be damned. Consider this absurd comparison to the Tour de France. Why not race the same circuit race in Bordeaux the first 7 days for the sprinters, up and down the Alpe du Huez 7 days in a row, and down the Champs for the final 7 days to finish it off. While that is an extreme exaggeration I feel it makes my point. The course does matter and to repeat yourself is to cheat the venue and reduce the uniqueness of the event which, like it or not, provides part of the romantic attraction of the sport we love.

In all honesty, I will definitely watch this year for sure, and root for Boonen, I will most likely gasp at the insanity of taking on the Paterberg 3 times but as I gasp I will most likely wonder what other 4 climbs could have been added instead of the 2 Oude Kwaremont's and 2 Paterberg's whether or not 2 of those others could have been the Bosberg and Muur.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reason 19: Fabian Cancellara gets it
"The traditions of the sport are counting for less and now on they have changed something crucial."

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Reason 18: Heinrich Haussler gets it

"Why did they have to change it? The prestige of the race has changed. It’s just really hard. I don’t like it. Why do they have to change a race like Flanders? It’s like not having Roubaix finish in the velodrome — it’s just stupid."


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reason 16: The cycling art of Geraardsbergen
Incredible Tour of Flanders inspired art, from sculpture to poetry, will be left behind without proper context.
The RVV cyclo tourists from the earlier post will also miss out on 50 years of homage to the great race.

Belgique -  Geraardsbergen - le Mur -  Taverne
Willy Verhegge poems on Eddy Merckx and others

"The Spectators"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reason 15: Depression
All of these folks are now sad.
I feel depressed already staring this sorry lot and thinking of what they will be missing this year.

The race directors need to help fight mental illness by bringing the Muur back.
Bring back the Muur, and a ray of sunshine will enter into the souls of the people pictured here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reason 14: The amateur version will also skip the Muur.

20,000 riders will NOT have an opportunity to spend their time AND MONEY in Geraardsbergen in 2012.
This guy from last years event was already pissed he could not drop $20 at the local tavern in 2012.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Reason 13: The town council of Geraardsbergen approved and paid for new cobblestones in 2004.
That kind of commitment deserves respect...not a kick in the ass followed by a kick in the face.

Source: @Brakethrough

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reason 12: Sayings like this will disappear.
“The Muur is a rendezvous with your character,” 
Eddy Planckaert, 1988 Tour of Flanders winner

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Reason 10: Context
When people ask how the race is going
 the next question is always in some way shape or form like the following.

How far are they from the Muur? How long to the Bosberg?
Pardon the language in the video...keep the sound down at work ;)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Reason 9: The Muur was the Logo of the Brand

"Logos are the entry point and the shortcut to the brand for your mind."
It can take years to craft an identifiable brand and the associated logo. Fools throw that away.
The Muur was the identifiable logo for the brand that is the Tour of Flanders.
Read this:


Monday, March 5, 2012

Reason 8: The names
The names "Muur" and "Bosberg" are badass.
"Muur" means "Wall"
Racing up the Wall? BADASS!
Correction via @wielergekblog:
Its replacement the Oude Kwaremont translated means Old Kwaremont. "Square Mountain".
Might as well be called "Yo Grandmas favorite climb"

"Bosberg" means something close to "Wood Hill".
That is descriptive but does not really resonate, actually kind of weak. 
BUT in English...
Bos, pronounced as "Boss" sounds badass like "Boss Hill"
That is why us English speakers like it.
Its replacement the Paterberg means Father Hill but to us English it sounds like
Patsy Hill or Pansy Mountain. Weak. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reason 7: This framed scene
Every year we see some version of this picture and put ourselves right there.
Every year we wish we were the camera man.
Every year we gawk at the freakish faces captured through the lens.
No longer...


Cancellara gave it everything on the Kapelmuur and distanced Boonen.

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) won the 2007 Ronde

David Millar (Garmin - Transitions) ascends the Kapelmuur in the Tour of Flanders.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Reason 6: This sign

What cycling fan does not see this sign and realize that the end of the
race is near and if decisions have not already been made they are about to be.
Losing this piece of history from the race sucks.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Reason 5: The run in to the Muur

It is like riding downhill into a stadium and then riding back out through the stands.
This clip gives me chills.  

In reverse

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reason 4: Edwig Van Hooydonck (Eddy Bosberg)
No Bosberg, makes Edwig's nickname not so cool any more.

Eddy Bosberg: Edwig Van Hooydonck wins the second of his Tours of Flanders in 1992.
Photo: © Sirotti

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reason 3: The finish line
The finishing staight in Meerbeke was PERFECT.

Long enough for sprints to be very contentious.

Straight enough for the lone escapee to take it all in.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reason 2: Passion

The people of Geraardsbergen even had a funeral procession
 for the loss of the race course coming through their town. 
This kind of passion for the race should not be overlooked in the future.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Reason 1: The Muur is iconic. 
Just take look at the bend to the Kapelmuur.
The images captured on the Muur exemplify why the race is so special to cycling fans everywhere.