Saturday, July 24, 2021
HomeStoriesUnder-23 Het Volk 2007

Under-23 Het Volk 2007

-

Continental TV may be dire, but there’s a good choice of radio stations; Percy Sledge is telling us about “When a man loves a woman”, as we jump back into the VW after paying homage at the Karl Buyse monument in sleepy Wontergem, heading for the Under-23 Het Volk 2007.

Buyse was a son of the Flanders sod who won the Tour de France in 1926. A long time ago maybe, but not forgotten here in the heartland.

Het Volk
The Karl Buyse monument in Wontergem.

The destination is Zottegem and the Under-23 Het Volk 2007.

In days gone by, this was run on the same day as the pro semi-classic of the same name, on the first weekend of the Belgian season, but now it’s held in sunny June.

A win or a podium place here goes a long way to securing a pro contract, so it’s a ‘death race’.

The roll of honour is impressive; Freddy Maertens, Eddy Planckaert, Paul Wellens, Andre Dierickx; or take a more recent edition – 2001, first: Gert Steegmans, second: Tom Boonen. Enough said.

Het Volk
The rollout.

To the uninitiated onlooker, this could be a pro race, only the team coaches and trucks are missing. There are swarms of professionally-liveried team cars; mechanics working on rows of gleaming, identical machines; masseurs applying exotic compounds to ripped, prominently-veined, tanned young legs, and cigar-smoking managers strutting their stuff.

Unibet and QuickStep have immaculately turned-out ‘feeder’ squads here, and it would be difficult to tell the U23 bikes and riders from their elite counterparts.

Het Volk
The Quick-Step HQ.

It’s one of the Unibet lads – managed by former Tour winner, Lucien Van Impe – who is leading the season-long Belgian U23 series; Kenny Van Der Schueren, and he’s already proficient at striking poses for the camera.

Het Volk
Kenny Van Der Schueren (Unibet).

It’s a huge field – 186 young men, all desperate for glory – which lines up in the main street, protected by barriers and a police presence which would do justice to Paris-Roubaix. The armada which roars-out behind them is pro-sized too.

It’s a complex parcours to follow, so we elect just to watch the start, and have a peek at it on the roads up on the ridge above Oudenaarde where so many of the world’s great races are contested – Het Volk, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, De Panne and the Tour of Flanders all use the network of roads up there.

Het Volk
Big bunch, gutter to gutter.

We catch the bunch just after the Eikenberg climb, a huge mass of riders, gutter to gutter. It has split already though, and there’s a big group chasing furiously as that chat with the Predictor/Lotto talent-scout disappears up the road.

It would be Monday before we confirmed that 18 year-old Gert Dockx (Beveren 2000) took the honours in his first season – remember the name.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Michael Nicholson – Suited to Belgian Racing

Bike broken, nearly poisoned and having to face 'Kermesse King' Mario Willems four times in a week-it ain't easy when you forsake the smooth tarmac of Westferry for the hard granite sets of Flanders - but 'a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.' Dooley's Michael Nicholson is just back from the flatlands; he took time to tell VeloVeritas the story...

The VV View: Recovery Ramblings from the Sofa, incl. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

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, and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad...

A night at the races – Belgian style!

Friday night, at this time I'm usually battling to get over the Forth Bridge before the traffic goes critical mass. Not tonight though, we may be battling through the tail-backs, but it's on the motorway out of Ghent, headed for a night at the races, Oosterzele and a 70 kilometre criterium. And besides, the reverend Al Green is on the car stereo telling us that; "Love is the message!" For sure, Al.

KBC Driedaagse van De Panne-Koksijde 2007 – Day 4

It's a split stage today for the Driedaagse, 119 kilometres in the morning, then 11 kilometres contre la montre in the afternoon. The morning stage means an early start all-round and at 09.05 the bunch rolls out of De Panne, it's parky but sunny.

James Cambridge – One of Cycling’s Unsung Heroes

"Do you remember the James Cambridge boy we were talking to at that kermesse in Sersekamp, four or five years ago?" says Viktor. "Red Specialized, great tan, pro's legs and a cool Craft under vest?" I reply.

Ian Whitehead – Gone Native in Belgium

I knew that Ian Whitehead had finally gone native when I received the email to inform me that his mail address no longer ended in "dot uk" but in "dot be"-that was the last link with the 'old country' gone. However, English Christmas pudding was consumed on the 25th-so there are still links to the 'old ways,' despite what he says. Ian is one of the men behind Kingsnorth Wheelers, the Belgian Team with an English name that's been home to so many good Commonwealth riders over the years...

At Random

Alex Coutts – Back to Giant Asia for 2010

Viktor calls; "That home page on the site hasn't changed for days. There's a Scottish pro called Alex Coutts out training in Spain, trying to get ready for the season, why aren't you talking to him?" Just one of the things that bugs about Vik, is that he's actually right a lot of the time!

Manic Zwifting = Podium Placing! The James McKay Blog

Apologies for my silence on the James McKay Blog for the last six weeks. If you had read my last blog post, you would know that my start to the season has not been brilliant. In just my first week of racing in France, I crashed and broke both my finger and wrist. Since then I’ve had more hospital visits than outdoor rides and some Manic Zwiftingbut I am delighted to say I’ve just completed a week of riding outdoors again, and have placed on the podium too!

Reflections on the 2011 Track World Champs – Part III, Endurance Races

We conclude our review of the 2011 World Track Champs from Apeldoorn with a look at the endurance events; only one of which will be in the Olympic programme - the team pursuit. The individual pursuit, madison, scratch and points have all been axed from London.

Grenoble Four Day 2012, Day Three: Kenny & Iljo or Morgan & Brian?

My pal Vik called me this morning; ‘the racing at the Grenoble Four Day can’t be very good if you’re spending so much time taking pictures of boys on the trapeze!’ If I could get him down here it would be different. It’s not just a bike race; if he was here, eating the nice food, drinking champers with friends, with the race whizzing around him and the amazing shows, he'd see things in a new light.

John Archibald – on breaking the Scottish 10 Mile Time Trial record

It’s hard to believe that since I started cycling in 1971 nearly four minutes have been hacked off the Scottish 10 mile time trial record; when I started it stood at 22 minutes and 14 seconds: 1971  P.Templeton  (Dundee Thistle R.C.)  22 mins 14 secs. It now stands at 18 minutes and 38 seconds thanks to that man John Archibald (Pro Vision) - a time he achieved this morning on the fast dual carriageway tarmac beside the River Clyde at Westferry.

Le Tour de France, Stage 11: Sisteron – Bourg-les-Valence; Reinstate Renshaw?

We headed to Bourg-les-Valence today, but first, Big Macs... they may pig you out towards an early grave, but damn, the wi-fi is good in there! Thursday was hectic, finished off with a train journey via Carstairs - I was a bit worried they might grab me - to Penrith, where I was meeting Dave to head to Stansted and La Belle France.