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Grote Prijs Gemeente Beveren 2007


Grote Prijs Gemeente Beveren
This is what we’re about today.

It’s long been a puzzle to me – who actually works in Flanders? It’s 11.30am at Beveren Waas on a Monday, two hours until the start and the Grote Prijs Gemeente Beveren race HQ is already heaving. Officials from the federation and all the participating clubs, mechanics, masseurs, mums, dads, girlfriends, sponsors and of course, riders; 196 of them.

People have their priorities right here, and work isn’t one of them – it comes somewhere after bike racing, family and doing what you enjoy.

It’s an “inter-club”, the GP Gemeente Beverene, 150 K and you can’t just turn up as a lone rider with an international licence, you have be a member of a Belgian club.

Sales figures for Tupperware are strong in Flanders; virtually every rider is sitting in their team car with his plastic cannister full of pasta – munching manfully.

We collar big Guy Smet for an interview before the start but he’s reluctant; “… my English not good.”

Despite his forbidding appearance on a bicycle, he’s the ‘gentle giant’ of cliche and is happy to chat to us.

Next week he leaves the running of his plastering business to someone else and goes full-time on the bike. He makes a clench fist gesture to leave no doubt about his intentions.

Grote Prijs Gemeente Beveren 2007
Big Guy.

The opposition will get a real morale-boost when they hear that one.

Grote Prijs Gemeente Beveren 2007
Cycling mums help out.
Grote Prijs Gemeente Beveren 2007
Amateur race – professional organisation.

England’s Matt Brammeier is riding, he’s abandoned the “Plan” and is now riding for PZT Profel – a very well organised Continental squad, like Matt says; “the Belgians have it sussed, don’t they?”

Grote Prijs Gemeente Beveren 2007
Matt Brammeier’s squad prepare.

Is he enjoying it; “Loving it, or I wouldn’t be here. I got a win up in Holland a couple of days ago.” He’s staying with a friend, north of Brussels and seems to have settled in very nicely.

Grote Prijs Gemeente Beveren 2007
Matt Brammeier.

I remember interviewing him at Girvan a few years ago – the only similarity between Beveren and the south west Scotland race is that it was raining.

There’s an 84 kilometre loop, then six small laps to get to the 150 km, it’s pan-flat though – so there’s just the rain, the wind . . . and Guy Smet’s 55 x 11 to worry about.

Grote Prijs Gemeente Beveren 2007
Matt signes on.

We grab some pics of Matt at the signing-on. He even gives us a smile. We watch the roll-out then grab some frites.

The guy in the chip cart loves Scotand, especially Ullapool! It’s a small world. Coffee time next, then a beer and it’s almost race time.