OUDENAARDE & MAARKE KERKEM
The BiciSport group to Flanders 2017 includes Sue & Graham Tierney, Nigel Perry, Ian Masson & Mike O'Reilly. The team is based at www.kokerelle.be in the hamlet of Maarke Kerkem at the base of the Eikenberg climb (a cobbled climb used in all of the Flemish professional Classics). This web blog will be updated below as the Flanders Classic season unfolds.
DWARS VLAANDEREN - March 22
First of the Wednesday semi Classics is Dwars Vlaanderen (Across Flanders) and Dwars uses all of the climbs in the other Classics to follow (be it E3 Grand Prix, 3 Days of De Panne or Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). The light training ride before Dwars in the afternoon included a warm up along the Kluisbergen Rail trail, then a climb of the Paterberg & Old Kwaremont cobbles. The BiciSport peloton saw Dwars three times at the Holleweg, Eikenberg & Patersburg cobbles then caught the finish at the Maarke Kerkem pub courtesy of Belgian television.
E3 HARELBEKE GRAND PRIX - March 24
"E3" was actually the original Belgian freeway number from Antwerp to the French border and is now called the E17 Freeway (it's a bit like calling a bike race the M5 Classic). The sun had disappeared and the day dawned cloudy & cold with the opportunity to see the E3 Harelbeke several times at the Holleweg cobbles (again), Old Kruisberg, Old Kwaremont and Avelgem cobbles.
GHENT WEVELGEM CYCLOSPORTIVE - March 25
The GW Cyclosportive started & finished in Wevelgem and generally was a flat affair across West Flanders save for the climbs over Mont Du Cats (on the French border), the Rodeberg (Red Hill), the Zwarteberg (White Hill) and the cobbled Kemmelberg. Some 18,000 starters lined up for a cold & windy trek across Flanders Fields to the Kemmelberg. Both Sue & Graham survived well & joined the 95% of riders who walked the 28% Kemmelberg climb.
GHENT WEVELGEM CLASSIC - March 26
An overnight stay at the Kemmelberg Hotel at the top of the mountain was delightful but issues with car parking on top of the mountain (on race day) prompted a rethink and the Bici peloton headed for the GW Classic start at Deinze.
3 DAYS of DE PANNE - March 28-30
The 41st Three days of De Panne has Stage 1 from De Panne (on the coast) to Zottegem (near Oudenaarde) with 2 laps over the Mur of Geraadsbergen. Stage 2 is Zottegem back to De Panne. Stage 3 is a short time trial around De Panne.
RONDE VAN VLAANDEREN CYCLOSPORTIVE - April 1
The first day of genuine Flemish cold, damp & cobbled wetness. The BiciSport peloton was reduced to two starters (just Ian Masson & Nigel Perry) who ventured out under cloudy damp skies. The Antwerp start was also decidedly wet with rain tumbling down to greet the 19,000 starters bouncing over greasy cobbled bergs. Everybody walked up the Koppenberg but Nigel was one of the few that rode up the Patersburg.
Ronde Van VLAANDEREN (TOUR OF FLANDERS) - April 2
The easiest way to see the Ronde is on a bike. The day started with the Women's Ronde at 11am in Oudenaarde then it was off to the Koppenberg Café at Melden just 5k away. From there we picked up the Women's Ronde two more times (at Old Kwaremont & Patersburg). The run sheet for the Men's Ronde included the Kortekeer climb, the Koppenberg (with Phil Gilbert on the attack), then Old Kwaremont & the Schelde River Bridge. The day finished at the Lentrecote B&B on the Schelde River for the TV finish.
EDDY VERBUST MUSEUM - APRIl 4
PARIS ROUBAIX RECCE - April 6
PARIS ROUBAIX CYCLOSPORTIVE& RONDE VAN VLAANDEREN FOR UNDER 23 NATIONAL TEAMS - April 8
A double header day with Sue & Graham Tierney facing the Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive in the morning. Then in the afternoon the Ronde Van Vlaanderen for Under 23 National Teams doing circuits around Oudenaarde with two laps of the Eikenberg cobbled climb then past the Kokerelle B&B two times.
PARIS ROUBAIX - April 9
Tom Boonen's last hoorah. Its an early start to drive into Compeigne for the 10.45am start, then head off to some early cobbles at Viesly, then drive into Roubaix for the finish.
That's a wrap from Flanders 17 for this year. Tommy didn't win but heck, there was some fabulous racing. Hope you enjoyed the journey & look forward to doing it again soon. Cheers, M O'R