Thursday, March 4, 2010

Racing, Flanders style

I happened to be in Belgium for Opening Weekend. Unfortunately I had a family matter to take care off during the Omloop so I did not get to see the race. I did see a short report afterwards, showing Tom Boonen suffering from a flat tire just as the deciding break took off. The unfortunate event did it for Tom and he was never able to regain a good position. Ultimately, the race was won by Juan Antonio Flecha, who outsprinted Philippe Gilbert.

Sunday was a totally different matter. The weather was downright awful, with wind and rain galore. I know because I happened to go out on a walk. There were times where I felt I was going to be blown off the road it was so bad. The weather took its toll on the semi-classic Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Only 26 riders finished the race. Two hours into the race, the pack split and the 40 or so dropped riders abandoned on the spot. From then on, one rider after another called it quits.
Tom Boonen, who won last year, stepped out of the race, saying he was cold and felt no need to "throw away four months of training in one afternoon." Flecha and Pozzatto followed suit.

The Cote de Trieux climb was scrapped when a tree blocked the road. Later the course was shortened by about 20 km because the riders were so late. Speeds hovered at 17-18kmh (10-11 mph) in the wind.

It was an epic race in the good tradition of the Flandriens, except for one thing, a Dutchman Bobbie Traksel won the contest. He did so by out-sprinting his two non Flemish companions at the line.

A friend of mine took part in a beloften (U23) race on Sunday. Same story there and only 8 riders finished. Several did get blown off their bikes, and nearly everyone was borderline hypothermic when they got off their bike.

I took a break from Thursday to Tuesday, doing nothing but walk a fair amount on Sunday of all days! Yesterday I rode on rollers for an hour.

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