Formed in June 09, Here Come the Belgians is a non-elite anti-team celebrating all things cross, cobbled and Belgian.
Seeking a different experience to the traditional cycling club, its aim is to harness the energy of a vibrant internet cycling community with grass roots racing and riding based around Cyclocross and Spring Classics. There is no race programme in the style of a racing team, more a collection of individual experiences through rides and racing, in whatever location a member may be, that all can share in and contribute toward.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Here come the Belgians: Ronde van France in Belgium

Let us start with some famous words:

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur. Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt. Gallos ab Aquitanis Garumna flumen, a Belgis Matrona et Sequana dividit. Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae, propterea quod a cultu atque humanitate provinciae longissime absunt, minimeque ad eos mercatores saepe commeant atque ea quae ad effeminandos animos pertinent important, proximique sunt Germanis, qui trans Rhenum incolunt, quibuscum continenter bellum gerunt.

Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico (I)

Basically it says – The Belgians are the toughest. And to make life easier for me I decided just to care about the Ronde van France on just three days in July. And these three days in Belgium were not the easiest!

Day 1: The finish was a slight uphill from 2 km to 1 km almost passing by the Atomium. But what should have been an easy sprinters affair in Brussels turned into crash festival. So this picture below is very raw as it shows the field 500 m before the first critical corner:

After this it was just blood sweat and tears (not pictured).

Day 2: My original plan to pre-ride the second half of this etap had to be cancelled, but basically it was just up, down, up, down, up, down, up, crash, very down, slow motion. So more blood and more tears. Expect a new Spa Red to hit the market shelves soon!

(A bonus stock photo of the Wallonie)

Day 3: Kasseien and Pave, for the afternoon I left a note on the door: In case of emergency call somebody else”. I placed myself with my trusty camera along the second section of pave. It was very dry and most sunny. I managed to pre ride this section on a farm road, a good line would be either up in the middle or on the side, which was a bit sandy.

Not really difficult and actually easier to ride than the inner city streets of Tournai. And no comparison for the cobbles along the harbour of Brussels. Back to the race: There was a small escape group (picture shows Rider of Garmin):

As You can see he is riding on the side in the sand, so he is not a Belgian!

With the peleton some 1-2 minutes behind, pulled by Saxo Bank, here still with two Schlecks.
(From left to right: 1. ? 2. O'Grady 3. Andy Schleck 4. Frank Schleck 5. Cancallara 6.? 7. Klöden 8. Martin)

A picture of the latter winner Thor (centre):

(From left to right: 1. Gesink?2. Contador 3. Thor 4.(Sky)? 5. ? 6. Evans)

Also by the time I had entered the course the people screamed and applauded and waved like crazy. Well, I should admit I ran late and ended up in the promotion caravan. Yes, Tour de France is like the games in the old roman times, food and fight, so the promotion caravan is a kind of carnival with small goodies getting thrown – sorry I mean collectors items.

My favourites of 2010:

- The Etap “Buff”, shame about the colour
- Cofidis Bandana to match our team kit

Next week we'll show you how to build equipment for the mountains.

1 comment:

  1. Love the photos as ever. Saxobank drilling it over the cobbles makes a nice topical screensaver..... Keep the reports coming!