Tag Archive for ‘Belgian Races’
Scrapbook: Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2017 (Comments Off)
Ghent, or rather ‘Gent’ we love it; the bars, the people and the fact you can walk into a filling station and there are six quality cycling magazines on the shelf to chose from, and you have to love a city where they have taps to discharge the rainwater. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the first real races of the year – Down Under, the Desert races, Langkawi? Come on!
The last time we spoke to Dan Gardner he’d just ridden the 2015 Worlds TTT in Virginia as part of the American Astellas team. This season saw him back with Astellas for the first part of the season before a mid-season move to the Heartland – Flanders – and a ride with the Baguet Bicycle Center Cycling Academy. The man behind the team, Serge Baguet is a Belgian ex-professional who rode for Lotto and QuickStep and can count a Belgian Elite Road Championship and Tour de France stage among his palmarès.
And for 2017 things just keep getting better for young Mr. Gardner with a ride for cult Belgo/Irish squad, AN Post. We caught up with Dan in late November with the first team get together coming in Calpe in December.
David Hewett – “I’m totally committed to chasing the dream” (Comments Off)
They’re not all going to make it; some do – Dan McLay, Adam Blythe, Jack Bauer… But they keep heading for the Heartland.
And we’ve got another name for you to conjure with; David Hewett, is on the kermis trail in search of that elusive crisp World Tour contract – here’s his tale…
Angus Claxton – from Plockton to Kortrijk (Comments Off)
According to our research, the village of Plockton in Ross and Cromarty has a population of 378 – but it should actually be ‘377 and one would-be Kermis King.’
And you thought Plockton was only famous for ‘Hamish Macbeth’ and one of VeloVeritas’s favourite movies, ‘The Wicker man.’
Enter young Angus Claxton . . .
His name has been brought to our attention by our long term Flatlands race watcher, Viktor; ‘the laddie’s getting round all right,’ said the great man – praise indeed from Vik. We spoke to Angus just before British Cycling announced his acceptance into the Academy.
Jez McCann – First Elite Kermis win at Zedelgem (Comments Off)
It’s a while since VeloVeritas last spoke to Steve Skuse; Vik and I used to bump into him on our trips to the kermises. Steve got in touch the other day to tell us about another young man he’s looking after and who’s pulled off that difficult trick of winning a kermis in the Flatlands.
And the better news is, he qualifies to ride for Bonnie Scotland… Jez McCann is the man; 19 years-old, raised in Gravesend, riding for Richardsons-Trek.
The VV View: Recovery Ramblings from the Sofa (Comments Off)
There’s never a good time to be in hospital but Grand Tour times apart, the start of March isn’t bad with cycling printed matter and video footage aplenty readily available.
Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne Bikes (Comments Off)
It was Sean Connery’s character in the film “The Untouchables” who suggested you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight and it was clear that the weapons of choice at the opening classics weekend in Belgium would contribute to the outcome and individual’s performance.
Having wandered around the teams at both the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne it became clear there was a lot of nice kit being readied to race. Weapons of choice? Well the pro’s do get paid to ride them so ask a pro what’s the best bike he has ever ridden and common sense will normally dictate they confirm it’s the one they are currently riding. Sensible response, however what about the weekend warriors or those who like to have the show pony even if it’s not being tested to the max, what would you choose?
Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne 2016 Goes To Stuyven (Comments Off)
The Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne adventure began when I met Craig Grieve, Spokes bike shop owner and U23 race team backer, early Friday morning, to get a picture of the newly-logoed team car.
For Craig, the journey to Kuurne is a long haul; catching a ferry from Hull, arriving Saturday in time for the riders to recce part of the course. We caught up with them on Saturday night in Kortrijk for a pizza and to hear how their preparation has gone and to plan for the race.
Het Nieuwsblad 2016 goes to GVA (Comments Off)
Saturday dawns crisp, cold and sunny for the Omloop Gent Gent. We have a copy of Het Nieusblaad which has all the information we need about the route so its time to head for the start. It’s moved this year to the S.M.A.K complex, site of the Gent Six Day.
As the car park fills with the now de rigueur coaches, ushered in by whistle blowing attendants we grab a quick pic of world champ Peter Sagan’s Specialized before being asked to move on by an unfriendly team staffer…
The first weekend of the classic season is fast approaching, with the ‘semi-classics’, the 71st Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Elite 1.HC) on Saturday 27th Feb and 68th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne (1.HC) the next day; the heat and sun of the Middle East and Australasia being replaced with the cold and biting wind of the Flemish Heartland.
Ian Stannard doesn’t appear on the start sheet so he won’t be back to defend his Omloop title despite his master class last year against the combined might of Etixx Quick Step who will doubtless be out to right that wrong and appease team boss Patrick Levere.
It was last Autumn when we last heard from Robert Smail, one of those ‘forgotten men’ out there jousting with the Eeckhouts, Willems, Smets and Caethovens of this world in the land of the frites, cross winds and kermises.
High time we had another word…
“James Spragg,” now there’s a name which hasn’t appeared in our pages for a while – but he’s back in harness and doing nicely thank you with some solid performances. We first came across James back in 2010 when he rode for the Qin Cycling Team and he’s with Continental Team, Champion System for 2015 and back in the groove with some good results – like 10th on GC in the recent Baltic Chain stage race in Estonia.
High-time we ‘had a word’ we decided.
Jake Scott – An InterClub Win at Zandhoven! (Comments Off)
One result which caught our eye recently was a win in the InterClub race at Zandhoven over 138 K where Englishman Jake Scott beat Stef Vermeulen of KWC Heist Zuiderkempen to take the win. InterClubs are ‘big deal’ races and the pro teams keep a close eye on the results – naturally, they’re not easy to win.
‘Illi Bikes’ is the name on Jake’s jersey, the team run by former Team Sky mechanic, Ken Illegems and his dad, soigneur Etienne. We thought we should ‘have a word’ with Mr. Scott…
It’s high time we looked east again, across the North Sea to where bike racing isn’t an aberration, where it’s in the soil and a barrier to hang over with your Jupiler and frites is never far away.
A name which we’ve seen cropping up this year is that of Luke Ryan (Richardsons-Trek Road Team) and recently he won a kermis at Torhout. There’s a man to have a word with…
Mark McNally – Everything geared to the Tour of Britain (Comments Off)
The summer is coming to an end so it must be time for Madison-Genesis rider Mark McNally to come to form… McNally is a product of the British ‘cycling academy’ system and was a member of the winning team in the European junior team pursuit championship in 2007 and European U23 team pursuit championship in 2008.
‘Let go’ by the academy, McNally rode as a UK domestic professional for Halfords in 2009 before crossing the North Sea and signing up for Irish/Belgian hard man’s team AN Post, where he’s remained since until this season where he’s with Madison-Genesis. As the days get shorter his form has risen; 10th in the GP Stad Zottegem, a winner in the Erpe Mere kermis – with rapid Belgian Champion Preben Van Hecke in third spot – then third in the GP Jef Scherens behind wily Belgian Bjorn Leukemans.
We just had to ‘have a word’ a day or two after the Scherens as McNally enjoyed a well earned day off the bike.