It was a difficult phone call to make, he picked up on the tone of my voice at once; ‘no, don’t tell me, please!

But it was best he heard it from me; ‘Flecha, he won it well, Viktor, sorry!

That’s it, I’m finished with Pro Cycling, for good!

Het Nieuwsblad
A worthy attention to detail, a marginal gain, a waste of money, or just cool?

Team SKY’s first classic win didn’t go down well with Vik – for that matter, it didn’t go down well with our fellow tele watchers in that bar near Brakel, either.

Het Nieuwsblad
Tom goes in as one of the favourites.
Het Nieuwsblad
We catch up with newly retired Bert Roessems on the Berendries.

And according to Cyclingnews, it’s the first time in the history of the event that a Belgian didn’t make the podium.

Best Belgian was AN Post’s indestructible ‘Rambo,’ Niko Eeckhout in seventh place; 39 years-old and leaving Boonen, Gilbert and Nuyens behind him.

Het Nieuwsblad
If a cop tells you to behave here, you do.

The headline in the Sunday’s Sport Wereld section of Het Nieuwsblad is “Voor Frank” – the Spaniard dedicated his win to Frank Vandenbroucke.

Het Nieuwsblad
For Frank, says JA.

Respect to Juan Antonio.

Flecha was born in Buenos Aires, last year’s winner, Hushovd was born in Arendal, Norway – the winners are getting further and further away form the Heartland.

It’s 07:20 in Gent, Sunday – outside, it looks like there’s a man playing a hose off the roof, it’s apocalyptic.

Het Nieuwsblad
Race radios or not, it’s good to know well in advance when the climbs are coming up.

There was talk yesterday that Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne might be cancelled today, due to high winds; there’s no sign of them yet – but there’s still plenty of time, the race doesn’t start ’til noon.

But I’m ahead of myself; the four degrees that greeted us at Charleroi on Friday afternoon felt positively mild.

Dave rattled the Peugeot 207 hire car up around the Brussels ring road and we were soon skeking the hardware at the Holiday Inn, Gent.

Het Nieuwsblad
Leonardo Fabio Duque inspects his bike.

Carbon continues to be king with the six teams staying there – AG2R, F des J, Rabobank, Sojasun, AN Post and Cofidis all on composites.

Sojasun’s Gitane Definitives are cool – they’re white, which is this year’s colour – but they are different; sculpted, nice cable routing, great decals.

We’ll be doing a feature on this year’s team bikes, within the next few weeks – I’ll have to do something with all these pics!

Het Nieuwsblad
There’s no problem recognising the Cofidis LOOKs.

After the last bike had been skeked, Friday night was spent at de Karper; Iljo Keisse’s dad’s bar – we met up with our chum, “Belgian Aussie” Dirk Van Hove – John Young was there and Stuart Anthony too.

Het Nieuwsblad
The cops are more sympathetic to cyclists here, naturally.

Saturday morning was wet and miserable, Viktor would have been disappointed in Dave; my driver stayed in bed whilst I did the newspaper collection run to the station.

Sport Wereld and Sport Krant both had Boonen and Boasson Hagen as ‘super favourites’ with Flecha getting no mention from either journal.

Given that he was third here last year and second in 2007 and with the fresh motivation of being on the best funded team on the planet, maybe we should all have paid him more attention.

But I’m ahead of myself, again.

Het Nieuwsblad
A FdesJ mechanic preps the cars – ‘these white cars needs to look white’.

Saturday morning was miserable in Gent, wind and rain – I cracked and bought a 15 euro Saxo Bank brolly.

Dave is ‘anti-umbrella’ but he did sneak closer to me as the downpour went critical mass.

It wasn’t a day for chatting to riders, all of whom hid in the busses ’til the last minute.

Het Nieuwsblad
We caught sight of big George Hincapie and a few others, but that was about it.

We did get a chat with Radio Shack’s new head mechanic, Kiwi Craig Geater; we’ve stalked him through a few teams – CSC, Disco, Astana and now, ‘The Shack.’

His tip was their boy Sebastien Rosseler, Craig said that he was in towering form, putting time into a flying peloton to win a stage at the Algarve.

Het Nieuwsblad
Lance and Johan rate our pal Craig highly enough to take him from team to team with them.

Dirk Van Hove was our chauffeur for the day.

Het Nieuwsblad
Lotto idolatory.

It was a great day, the van had race creds, so were able to drive the course and Dirk having the lingo was a big plus.

Het Nieuwsblad
Dirk’s a local, but we still needed to check the best shortcuts.

The early parcours are pan flat, with long, long straight concrete section roads – and no shelter from the wind.

The riders have a couple of hours of flat road big gear riding before the hills start.

Het Nieuwsblad
Tyler looks comfy in the bunch.

And when that happens, there’s no respite; berg follows berg and then the finale has the cobbles.

Het Nieuwsblad
It’s no problem keeping up with the action when you’re out on the course – everyone has TVs rigged up outdoors.

Boonen was hugely impressive – but he punctured twice.

Het Nieuwsblad
Tomeke on the Berendries, but it wasn’t his lucky day.

Nuyens too looked strong but three punctures did for his chances – we saw him ride several kilometres on the rim, his front wheel snaking and twitching over the cobbles.

Het Nieuwsblad
The early break: Roy Curvers (Skil-Shimano) leads Roger Kluge (Milram), Frederic Guesdon (Francaise de Jeux), and Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil).
Het Nieuwsblad
Ed gives Guesdon his ‘Man of the Match’ award.
Het Nieuwsblad
Three riders try to bridge to the break: David Boucher (Landbouwcredit), Gregory Habeaux (Verndas Willems), and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil).
Het Nieuwsblad
Dan Lloyd on the Berendries – he attacked out of the bunch shortly after the climb and tried to get in touch with the chasing three.

Gilbert was just lacking that last little bit; his first peak will be in three weeks – the Primavera.

Het Nieuwsblad
Pippo Pozatto finished well up in the first group, behind Flecha – 10th today for the Italian Champion.
Het Nieuwsblad
Marcel Sieberg was very active at the front of the race, and was rewarded with a fine 5th place.

Of the three, Nuyens seemed most disappointed when being interviewed after the race, Gilbert and Boonen seemed relaxed – both know that the form is where it should be and the results will come.

Kuurne is where QuickStep traditionally make amends for their disastrous Saturday – this pattern has been maintained for the last four years: Nuyens ’06, Boonen ’07 & ’09 and Steven De Jongh ’08.

Let’s hope so, anyway.

If Boasson Hagen wins, I’ll worry for Viktor’s safety.

Het Nieuwsblad
Russell Downing worked hard for the team, and still finished – in the same group as Stijn Devolder. Bravo Russ.
Het Nieuwsblad
Cheerio from us, and Dirk’s mum. See you at Kuurne tomorrow!

Het Nieuwsblad 2010 Result

1 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Sky Professional Cycling Team 5:07:15
2 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team 0:00:18
3 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Transitions
4 Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
5 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team HTC – Columbia
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team
7 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) An Post – Sean Kelly
8 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team HTC – Columbia
9 Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil – Shimano
10 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha
11 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française des Jeux
12 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
13 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
14 Yoann Offredo (Fra) Française des Jeux
15 William Bonnet (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
16 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
17 Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil – Shimano
18 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
19 Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervelo Test Team
20 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step 0:00:24
21 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 0:00:26
22 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
23 Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team
24 Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil – Shimano
25 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
26 Phillippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
27 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
28 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha 0:00:29
29 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:32
30 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team 0:00:34
31 Leif Hoste (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:39
32 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 0:01:33
33 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Team HTC – Columbia 0:02:57
34 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
35 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Doimo
36 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:03:51
37 Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) An Post – Sean Kelly
38 Mauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
39 Andrea Masciarelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
40 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
41 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
42 Kevin Neirynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
43 Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
44 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
45 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank
46 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
47 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française des Jeux
48 Jérémie Galland (Fra) Saur – Sojasun
49 Steve Houanard (Fra) Skil – Shimano
50 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank
51 Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas-Doimo
52 Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin – Transitions
53 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
54 Grégory Rast (Swi) Team Radioshack
55 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Rabobank
56 Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
57 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank
58 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française des Jeux
59 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
60 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team
61 Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 0:04:59
62 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank
63 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française des Jeux
64 Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC – Columbia
65 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Garmin – Transitions
66 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo
67 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team
68 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team
69 Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank
70 Jens Mouris (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
71 Davide Vigano (Ita) Sky Professional Cycling Team
72 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Quick Step
73 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team Radioshack
74 Bjorn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
75 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Team Radioshack
76 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank
77 David Millar (GBr) Garmin – Transitions
78 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step
79 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:05:38
80 David Boucher (Fra) Landbouwkrediet 0:05:41
81 Alessandro Fantini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
82 Sven Renders (Bel) Verandas Willems
83 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:06:49
84 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
85 Michael Barry (Can) Sky Professional Cycling Team
86 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quick Step
87 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram
88 Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
89 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
90 Tiziano Dall’antonia (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:07:28
91 Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank 0:10:45
92 Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team
93 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
94 Gert Dockx (Bel) Team HTC – Columbia
95 Mitchell Docker (Aus) Skil – Shimano
96 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Team Katusha
97 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
98 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank
99 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team
100 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team
101 Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank
102 Paidi O Brien (Irl) An Post – Sean Kelly
103 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team
104 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
105 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux 0:11:14
106 Kim Borry (Bel) An Post – Sean Kelly
107 Rene Mandri (Est) AG2R La Mondiale
108 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
109 Andy Cappelle (Bel) Verandas Willems
110 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
111 Nikita Eskov (Rus) Team Katusha
112 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto
113 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux
114 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des Jeux
115 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Garmin – Transitions
116 Domenik Klemme (Ger) Team Saxo Bank
117 Jurgen Vandewalle (Bel) Quick Step
118 Stuart O’grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
119 Cedric Coutouly (Fra) Saur – Sojasun
120 Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin – Transitions
121 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin – Transitions
122 Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil – Shimano 0:13:10
123 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram
124 Dieter Cappelle (Bel) Verandas Willems
125 Russell Downing (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team
126 Servais Knaven (Ned) Team Milram
127 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team Radioshack
128 Michiel Elijzen (Ned) Omega Pharma-Lotto
129 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Team Milram
130 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team
131 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step
132 Daryl Impey (RSA) Team Radioshack
133 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Team Milram
134 Markus Eichler (Ger) Team Milram
135 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
136 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Team HTC – Columbia
137 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test Team
138 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team
139 Robin Chaigneau (Ned) Skil – Shimano
140 Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
141 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
142 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team HTC – Columbia
143 Yohann Gene (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
144 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
145 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Mercator
146 Dario Andriotto (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
147 Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & Sapone