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Tag: Kuurne Brussels Kuurne
Roadside at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and KBK 2018. The first classic weekend of the year has been and gone and safely back in a rather snowy Scotland I've got time to reflect on the Classic season opener. The glorious Belgian sunshine all weekend could not lift the thermometer and the riders endured bitterly cold conditions for both Het Nieuwsblad or Kuurne Brussels Kuurne.
Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo & The Netherlands) goes from way out, Arnaud Demare (FDJ & France) scrambles for his wheel but is lengths back at the line with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain & Italy) doing well for a man whose speciality is late season races in balmy Italy, taking third. We agree it was a great sprint from the Dutchman but it wasn't a vintage Kuurne Brussels Kuurne.
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!
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.
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.
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.
What have Geraint Thomas, Adam Blythe and new sprint star – he was only narrowly beaten by Boonen at Kuurne – Moreno Hofland all got in common? There’s a clue above in the place name: they’ve all won the junior Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. And adding to that illustrious list is another Englishman; 17 year-old James Shaw from Heanor in Derbyshire, he rides for HARIBO Beacon Cycling Team in the UK and took the honours with a perfectly timed move in the finale of one of the world’s premier junior races.
Het Volk used to be a cult race, the teams would line up in the street just up from the Kuipke velodrome. The first team to set up would be the late Frans Assez's Flanders squad-no flash bus or trucks, just a 'Luton' style van. But his red Flanders bikes always looked the part, neatly arranged on their stands-and as first team there they caught a lot of public attention.
From the point that his Sky Procycling teammates took up station on the front of the peloton with 60km to go, Mark Cavendish never looked like losing today, and so it proved as he swept to an easy bunch sprint win over FDJ-Big Mat's Yauheni Hutarovich with Vacansoleil-DCM's Kenny Van Hummel in third.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2011 used to be the 'revenge match' for Gent-Gent (Het Nieuwsblad); after poor showings in Saturday's race, QuickStep usually rode on Sunday with great panache to salvage the weekend-they did this with Nuyens in '06, Boonen in '07 & '09 and brilliantly with de Jongh in '08.
We're in Flanders for Het Nieuwsblad 2011 and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, but first there are mechanics to annoy, bars to visit and bergs to climb. Donna Summer, Barry White, The Real Thing - and even a bit of Joe South; three pils for €5.40 and all the smoke you can handle - cigarettes and cigars - The Vivaldi, it's a proper bar. 'We won't kick the backside out of it, tonight,' says Dave on Thursday; but the pils was cold and smooth, the soul and disco flowed... we got to bed at 03:45 with all of Scottish Cycling and the UCI's problems sorted out.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2010... "Opgave door storm" says the headline, of Tom Boonen - 'gave up during the storm'; I don't ever remember seeing that headline about Eddy Merckx. For the last four years, Kuurne Brussels Kuurne is where QuickStep have pulled the fat out of the fire on the Sunday, after a disastrous Het Volk on the Saturday.
Another beautiful day; I like the drive to Kuurne Brussels Kuurne, if the weather is nice. The fields, the canals, the rows of poplars, the old brick farm houses, counter posed by flat roof modernist houses. The routine is well rehearsed at Kuurne - check the 'B' team car park at the sports centre, then up to the 'A' team car park at the start...
Saturday morning dawned bright and mild; this gives rise to mixed feelings - on the one hand you want a freezing, wet, death race, but on the other, it's no fun standing in the cold and wet for hours. One thing is sure - sunshine would have been of no use to Viktor at the Kuurne Brussels Kuurne!
Sunday dawned bright and clear and it was three refreshed men who headed for Kuurne Brussels Kuurne. This was bike skeking taken to a new level; two-and-a-half hours of it, and it wasn't enough. Batavus are an old favourite of ours and their 'Professional X' is cool, matt black against a tide of white this year.
Getting to Flanders yesterday for the kuurne Brussels Kuurne was painful - a two hour delay at Prestwick, then a battle through the rush hour traffic on the Brussels ring road. Dave and I are getting good at indiscriminate lane changing and not indicating, but we really have to brush up on our tail-gating technique if we want to drive in the authentic Belgian fashion.
You know you're in Belgium at the Kuurne Brussels Kuurne when the barman is Iljo Keisse's dad - and when there are posters for bike races in the loo! But I'm getting ahead of myself; "live cargo", that's how the airlines refer to their passengers. And that's how we feel: the flight is two hours late and we're sitting on the floor at Prestwick Airport, or 'Glasgow South' as Ryanair would have it, despite the fact that we're 50 kilometres from the city on the Clyde.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2007. The portents for Sunday were better: we weren't hung-over; the sun was out; and we got up to the start at Kuurne without one wrong turning. The chemists were shut though, so Pozzato couldn't buy his hair gel. The start at Kuurne is always a real, "organised chaos" job, there's a riders enclosure but somehow, some riders get mixed up with the crowd and can't get back in to the start enclosure, so have to wait on the roll-out beginning, then cajole their way through the sea of people so as they can go to work.