The Spring Classics in Belgium are one-day races held every weekend starting in March. In 2010, I was in Belgium following the spring classics races. It was my second time following one of my favorite races of all time, Tour of Flanders. In my opinion, it is the most exciting race to spectate in Belgium. I followed the races in a rented car, driving as quickly as possible from one spot on the course to the next. Watching the racers go by was an adrenaline rush. The crowds went wild and there was always a party on popular spots of the parcours, with fans watching and cheering as the racers go by. The smell of Belgian beer, cigarette smoke and flag of Flanders blowing in the wind gave me chills as I stood there waiting. Once the drone of the helicopter started to get closer, people began to burst with excitement. The racers are coming. At least 20 police motos drove by before the racers were spotted. The grimace on the racer’s dirty faces and their tired looks was really something to see in person. Wow.
That year, we went to Oudenaarde where the women’s team presentation was held as well as the start of the ladies Tour of Flanders or RONDE VAN VLAANDEREN. Oudenaarde is also the home of the Tour of Flanders museum. A display of names carved in the cobbles is on display as you enter the museum. I felt a sense of pride to see all the women’s team cars, the display of beautiful expensive bikes, very fit racers and a very big crowd. Tour of Flanders is not an easy race! Although, the last two years the race organizers opted out the Muur which is the longest climb on cobbles and usually a game changer in the race. This year, the game changer would probably be in Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg which are the last two cobbled bergs to the finish.
The wind chill was harsh as I stood by a cobbled section for hours waiting for the women racers to arrive. The two RVs parked across from where I stood had a television set and once in a while an old lady would come out to check if the racers were coming. The flag of Flanders waved in the wind on the side of the road and I stood there with goosebumps as I thought about the speed and power or even the sound of the bikes going through the cobbles. Actually, is was very cold and the wind chill felt like an icebath! The cobbles are cruel. There is no mercy. Punctures can happen anytime. Crashes happen all the time. It is another historical race in cycling. The women were split up into smaller groups as they head up a cobbled berg just 200 meters from where I was spectating. As the groups got closer, they went faster as they started looking to get good position before the short steep climb. Incredible to watch. It is a hard man’s race and also a hard woman’s race. Strong women.
This year, NorCal ladies will be represented in the Tour of Flanders. Awesome. There are three NorCal ladies in the start list this, Emily Kachorek and Ruth Winder of Vanderkitten Cycling Team will be representing team USA and Megan Guarnier for RaboLivGiant.
NorCal CyclingNews would like to send good luck to the ladies at Tour of Flanders this Sunday, March 31st!
Go NorCal! We will cheer for you as we watch live coverage on tweeter at the crack of dawn!
Update: Tibco will not race Ronde Van Vlaanderen as they will focus on US races.
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