BiciSport in Flanders 2017

Paris Roubaix 17 - Tom Boonen & Matt Hayman roll out from Compeigne

Paris Roubaix 17 - Tom Boonen & Matt Hayman roll out from Compeigne

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.   

Flanders 2017 - Graham & Sue Tierney outside the Kokerelle B&B in the village of Maarke Kerkem

Flanders 2017 - Graham & Sue Tierney outside the Kokerelle B&B in the village of Maarke Kerkem

Flanders 2017 - Karel Van Wijnendaele conceived the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and a monument is dedicated to his memory at the top of the Old Kwaremont cobbled climb. The winners of each Ronde have their image on their own small cobble in front of the KVW monument.   

Flanders 2017 - Karel Van Wijnendaele conceived the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and a monument is dedicated to his memory at the top of the Old Kwaremont cobbled climb. The winners of each Ronde have their image on their own small cobble in front of the KVW monument.   

Flanders 2017 - At the bottom of the Koppenberg (aka the Black Beast). It's so called as the cobbled wall cuts through the shadows of the Koppenberg forest (the climb is 22% at its steepest section)

Flanders 2017 - At the bottom of the Koppenberg (aka the Black Beast). It's so called as the cobbled wall cuts through the shadows of the Koppenberg forest (the climb is 22% at its steepest section)

Dwars Vlaanderen 17 - The peloton slams over the Holleweg cobbles just outside Maarke Kerkem

Dwars Vlaanderen 17 - The peloton slams over the Holleweg cobbles just outside Maarke Kerkem

Dwars Vlaanderen 17 - The peloton hits the Eikenberg cobbles near Maarke Kerkem

Dwars Vlaanderen 17 - The peloton hits the Eikenberg cobbles near Maarke Kerkem

Dwars Vlaanderen 17 - Phil Gilbert attacks the breakaway over the Patersburg cobbles (maximum gradient 20%)

Dwars Vlaanderen 17 - Phil Gilbert attacks the breakaway over the Patersburg cobbles (maximum gradient 20%)

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.         

E3 Harelbeke 17 - Tom Boonen leads the peloton on the Old Kruisberg climb at Ronse

E3 Harelbeke 17 - Tom Boonen leads the peloton on the Old Kruisberg climb at Ronse

E3 Harelbeke 17 - Peter Sagan on the Avelgem cobbles heading for the finish

E3 Harelbeke 17 - Peter Sagan on the Avelgem cobbles heading for the finish

E3 Harelbeke 17 - A cold start to the E3 day via the Schelde River bike path. The return trip into Oudenaarde was briefly stopped as the Oudenaarde bridge was raised to let river barges pass through Oudenaarde.

E3 Harelbeke 17 - A cold start to the E3 day via the Schelde River bike path. The return trip into Oudenaarde was briefly stopped as the Oudenaarde bridge was raised to let river barges pass through Oudenaarde.

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 Cyclosportive 17 - After 100k across Flanders Fields the immediate challenge becomes the 28% gradient to the top of the cobbled Kemmelberg. Sue & Graham joined the overwhelming majority and walked to the top. The World War 1 monument at the base of the climb is dedicated to the fallen French soldiers.   

Ghent Wevelgem Cyclosportive 17 - After 100k across Flanders Fields the immediate challenge becomes the 28% gradient to the top of the cobbled Kemmelberg. Sue & Graham joined the overwhelming majority and walked to the top. The World War 1 monument at the base of the climb is dedicated to the fallen French soldiers.   

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.  

Ghent Wevelgem 17 - Peter Sagan before the start

Ghent Wevelgem 17 - Peter Sagan before the start

Ghent Wevelgem 17 - The Deinze start offered a great opportunity to see the whole pro peloton cruise down to the sign on.  Tom Boonen, GVA & Peter Sagan received the biggest crowd support. 

Ghent Wevelgem 17 - The Deinze start offered a great opportunity to see the whole pro peloton cruise down to the sign on.  Tom Boonen, GVA & Peter Sagan received the biggest crowd support. 

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.

3 Days of De Panne 17 - Phil Gilbert attacks on the Mur (Wall) of Geraadsbergen

3 Days of De Panne 17 - Phil Gilbert attacks on the Mur (Wall) of Geraadsbergen

3 Days of De Panne 17 - Peloton climbs the Mur of Geraadsbergen long after Phil Gilbert had passed

3 Days of De Panne 17 - Peloton climbs the Mur of Geraadsbergen long after Phil Gilbert had passed

3 Days of De Panne 17 - Direct Energy at the Stage 2 start at Zottegem

3 Days of De Panne 17 - Direct Energy at the Stage 2 start at Zottegem

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 Cyclosportive 17 - Sue & Graham Tierney greet Maarten Verhulst at the top of the Eikenberg climb with 130k completed and 70k to go. The cyclosportive started in Antwerp in heavy rain and it stayed damp & cold most of the day.  Just after this picture was taken Maarten snapped his chain which was replaced by Flanders Cycles in Oudenaarde. 

Ronde Van Vlaanderen Cyclosportive 17 - Sue & Graham Tierney greet Maarten Verhulst at the top of the Eikenberg climb with 130k completed and 70k to go. The cyclosportive started in Antwerp in heavy rain and it stayed damp & cold most of the day.  Just after this picture was taken Maarten snapped his chain which was replaced by Flanders Cycles in Oudenaarde

Ronde Van Vlaanderen Cyclosportive 17 - Mike O'Reilly with Maarten Verhulst at the top of the Eikenberg  

Ronde Van Vlaanderen Cyclosportive 17 - Mike O'Reilly with Maarten Verhulst at the top of the Eikenberg  

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.     

Ronde Van Vlaanderen 17 - Greg Van Avermatt (GVA) on the Kortekeer climb outside Oudenaarde

Ronde Van Vlaanderen 17 - Greg Van Avermatt (GVA) on the Kortekeer climb outside Oudenaarde

Ronde Van Vlaanderen 17 - the Melden feedzone had some interesting characters (brother & sister) waiting for the professional peloton to arrive.

Ronde Van Vlaanderen 17 - the Melden feedzone had some interesting characters (brother & sister) waiting for the professional peloton to arrive.

Ronde Van Vlaanderen 17 - the Oudenaarde start of the Womens race had some interesting characters

Ronde Van Vlaanderen 17 - the Oudenaarde start of the Womens race had some interesting characters

Ronde Van Vlaanderen 17 - the day after the Ronde it was time for Sue & Graham Tierney to get (lost ?) around the Flemish laneways near Zottegem & Sint Blasius Boekel. The ride included the cobbled Paddestraat, Lippenhoevestraat, Holleweg & Haaghoek (all used in the Ronde)

Ronde Van Vlaanderen 17 - the day after the Ronde it was time for Sue & Graham Tierney to get (lost ?) around the Flemish laneways near Zottegem & Sint Blasius Boekel. The ride included the cobbled Paddestraat, Lippenhoevestraat, Holleweg & Haaghoek (all used in the Ronde)

EDDY VERBUST MUSEUM - APRIl 4

Eddy Verbust Museum 17 - Nigel Perry, Graham Tierney, Sue Tierney, Eddy Verbust & Ian Masson alongside the Patrick Sercu medal collection from various Olympic & World Championships   

Eddy Verbust Museum 17 - Nigel Perry, Graham Tierney, Sue Tierney, Eddy Verbust & Ian Masson alongside the Patrick Sercu medal collection from various Olympic & World Championships   

PARIS ROUBAIX RECCE - April 6

Paris Roubaix 17 - Recce on the Thursday before the classic is a chance to go to the Carrefour De L'Arbre cobbles and see the teams bounce over the stones. We arrived mid morning with 5 team buses waiting outside the famous Carrefour De L'Arbe Restaurant (in the background) but not a pro rider in sight. We waited for a while but alas no riders materialised so we then headed off to the Roubaix Velodrome for a coffee. There was a chilled wind blowing.  

Paris Roubaix 17 - Recce on the Thursday before the classic is a chance to go to the Carrefour De L'Arbre cobbles and see the teams bounce over the stones. We arrived mid morning with 5 team buses waiting outside the famous Carrefour De L'Arbe Restaurant (in the background) but not a pro rider in sight. We waited for a while but alas no riders materialised so we then headed off to the Roubaix Velodrome for a coffee. There was a chilled wind blowing.  

Paris Roubaix 17 - outside the Carrefour De L'Arbe Restaurant. It used to be a run down old pub but is now a very expensive restaurant. Weather conditions were freezing. 

Paris Roubaix 17 - outside the Carrefour De L'Arbe Restaurant. It used to be a run down old pub but is now a very expensive restaurant. Weather conditions were freezing. 

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 Cyclosportive 17 - at the start adjacent to the Roubaix Velodrome

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive 17 - at the start adjacent to the Roubaix Velodrome

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive 17 - Sue Tierney crosses the finishing line of the Roubaix Velodrome

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive 17 - Sue Tierney crosses the finishing line of the Roubaix Velodrome

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive 17 - Graham & Sue Tierney

Paris Roubaix Cyclosportive 17 - Graham & Sue Tierney

Ronde Van Vlaanderen Under 23 National Teams 17 - the peloton screams past the Kokerelle B&B

Ronde Van Vlaanderen Under 23 National Teams 17 - the peloton screams past the Kokerelle B&B

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.   

Paris Roubaix 17 - The BiciSport team headed for the small village of Viesly near Solesmes and the PR peloton entered from one side of the village then headed off towards the Quivey cobbles only to return to the other side of Viesly some 20 minutes later.  

Paris Roubaix 17 - The BiciSport team headed for the small village of Viesly near Solesmes and the PR peloton entered from one side of the village then headed off towards the Quivey cobbles only to return to the other side of Viesly some 20 minutes later.  

Paris Roubaix 17 - Having the PR peloton come in from one side of Viesly it was a brisk 500m walk to see the same PR peloton come into Viesly from the other side of the village. Viesly village part 2 featured Peter Sagan (obscured) tucked behind a BORA team mate. Tom Boonen is also tucked behind a QS team mate.

Paris Roubaix 17 - Having the PR peloton come in from one side of Viesly it was a brisk 500m walk to see the same PR peloton come into Viesly from the other side of the village. Viesly village part 2 featured Peter Sagan (obscured) tucked behind a BORA team mate. Tom Boonen is also tucked behind a QS team mate.

Paris Roubaix 17 - A short drive from Viesly and the BiciSport team decamped inside the Roubaix Velodrome some 75 metres from the finish. The Velodrome was packed all hoping to see Tom Boonen take the win but it was not to be. The small group pictured on the Velodrome just received the bell lap.

Paris Roubaix 17 - A short drive from Viesly and the BiciSport team decamped inside the Roubaix Velodrome some 75 metres from the finish. The Velodrome was packed all hoping to see Tom Boonen take the win but it was not to be. The small group pictured on the Velodrome just received the bell lap.

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