Sunday, December 5, 2021
HomeDiariesThe Tour of Flanders 2008 - Day 2

The Tour of Flanders 2008 – Day 2

-

The Tour of Flanders 2008. What does the ‘oh’ stand for in oh, four, forty five ? “Oh my God it’s early!”  That’s an old Robin Williams joke, from Good Morning Vietnam, but I like it.

I managed a shave without removing any skin, packed my case and stumbled out of the room, all the while making a mental note that when I met Big Bert, I’d get some free samples of his sponsor’s ‘Silence’ anti-snoring preparation for Greg.

I was on station at Ninove bang on 06.15, helped by a jumbo tin of Red Bull and the excellent tunes on Radio Nostalgie – pronounced Nostal-hee.

The Tour of Flanders 2008
Bert, Andre and Inge, nice folk, and my hosts for the day.

Bert, his wife Inge and father-in-law Andy arrived at about twenty five past six and we headed back up to Brugge, much slower than I had come down the same road.

It was chilly, but bright in Brugge and even at 07.30, there were a lot of fans out and about. Once again the organisers had it right, and there was a beautiful breakfast spread laid out for the journos and VIP’s.

The Tour of Flanders 2008
That’s what we call a buffet!

One ancient Italian photographer attacked it like he hadn’t “seen meat for a week,” as my dad used to say.

Outside, the crowds were gathering for the sign on and the band was giving it laldie; despite having great oldie radio stations, the Flemish taste in music does worry me a wee bit, but I digress.

After breakfast, I made my way up to the bus park and got to work snapping bikes – Colnago CLX’s at Landbou’; Treks at Astana; Scotts at Saunier and Looks at CA.

The Tour of Flanders 2008
Leif Hoste’s Ridley.

I also snapped Leif Hoste’s Ridley Helium – just in case he won. I thought I’d take a pic of Cancellara’s Cervelo, but there were ‘crime scene’ tapes round his team cars and bus so I thought better of it.

Part of our sport’s appeal is its accessability; the smart DS’s understand this and leave the bikes on show, with a junior mechanic on hand to admonish anyone who takes the examination too far. CSC are just a bit too inscrutable for me, but I’m sure Bjarne won’t loose any sleep over my opinions.

The Tour of Flanders 2008
Bert keeps track of the race on the wee telly.

The Tour of Flanders 2008

This is what it’s all about!But a day later, there’s even less doubt in my mind about the fact that there’s no sport which can compare to professional road cycle racing.

Six-and-a-half hours in all conditions from spring sunshine to rain, snow and bouncing hail.

The Tour of Flanders 2008
The Wannegem Lede cobbles close up.

Seventeen evil climbs, cobbles, that you’d be careful riding your mountain bilke across, narrow lanes, concrete sections – 264 kilometres that twist and weave from Brygge to Ninove.

The riders have to eat, drink and answer the call of nature as the hours, kilometres and cobbles chip away at them.

And all this happens on someone’s doorstep, nt on some football pitch with high priced turnstyles, security and coconed athletes; or on a glamorous race circuit that only sees competition once or twice a year. It passes pastry shops and petrol stations; chemists and coal yards; your house and your pal’s house. Tractors and kids on BMX’s travel the same roads, every day.

It’s unique, bizarre, wonderful and part of the culture and fabric of Flanders.

There’s nothing like it in any other sport.

The Tour of Flanders 2008
Spectating – Belgian style.

As I rattled my flight case down the road, away from the press room at Ninove and back to the car, I could hear what I thought was a PA.

A Flemish gentleman, lovingly carrying a Lenny the Lion puppet – which was wearing a QuickStep jersey – had a loud hailer in his other hand; “where is Cancellara? where is Cancellara?” he was enquiring at max volume.

Hardly anyone glanced twice at him, and any looks he did get were of glowing approval.

I love it here!

The Tour of Flanders 2008
Ed and Andrew enjoy the, er, sunshine.
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

George Atkins – Time Trials, Belgium and Cooking!

George Atkins was a name that suddenly appeared on the Scottish scene back in the summer. And on Sunday the versatile man from Leicester took silver in the British U23 Time Trial Championships, but before his foray into the world of riding 'alone and unpaced', he spent six weeks in Flanders, so naturally we needed to have a word with him, not long before the British Champs.

Andy Fenn – Winner of the Gullegem Koerse 2013

One of the biggest professional kermises in Flanders is the Gullegem Koerse, first held in 1942 when Belgian legend Marcel Kindt claimed victory. Since then it’s been won by many of the hardest kermis riders in the game – Willy Tierlinck, Wilfried Nelissen, Nico Eeckhout, Gert Omloop to name a few. Not to mention some of the best roadmen of their eras; including Nico Mattan, Peter Van Petegem and Philippe Gilbert. And for this year’s edition we can boast of a Scottish winner in Andy Fenn – well, his mum is Scottish and he rode the Commonwealth Games for us in Delhi.

Michael Mørkøv – “Whoever is involved in the lead out, we’re getting it right!”

Quickstep's win total for the year now stands at 24 with the victories not just down to one man but spread across the team – remarkable. How do they do it? To find out, we got in touch with our old friend and key leadout man in the QuickStep machine, Michael Mørkøv - who was instrumental in Jakobsen’s most recent triumph and similarly ‘pilot fished’ Hodeg to a stage win in the Tour of Catalonia – to get ‘the word’ from the horse’s mouth.

Ruaraidh McLeod – First Win in Belgium

It’s been a month or two since we last spoke, and it’s nearly time for Ruaraidh McLeod to head home to land of the long white cloud - but we thought we’d best say ‘congratulations’ on his first win (and see if he’s crossed paths with those Scotsmen that are also over there in Belgium).

Hamish Haynes – Letters from Belgium #1

Hi folks, Hamish Haynes here. Let's bring you up to speed with my season so far: In mid-February, just before returning from winter training in Spain I picked up a hamstring strain; at that moment it wasn't clear what had exactly happened. I assumed it was a minor niggle that would quickly recede, within a few days I realized a scan was necessary, fortunately it revealed only a minor muscle elongation.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018 – Dylan Groenewegen takes the sprint

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.

At Random

Linda Ann – On Life with Philippa York

By any measure it’s an unusual story; hard man, Robert Millar the Tour de France ‘King of the Mountains’ in 1984, second overall twice in the Vuelta, second in the Giro and fourth overall in the Tour de France transitions into female Philippa York. A factor in the story which intrigued me was that the lady who was Robert’s partner and the mother of his daughter, is still Philippa’s partner: Linda Ann.

The Peebles Criterium 2011 Preview

On Tuesday 14th of June we have a major new event for a summer evening in Peebles, in the Scottish Borders. For the first time, a major new road event will be taking place in the town centre: a Belgian-style kermis event with lots of the community involved and pubs and restaurants along the circuit; The Peebles Criterium 2011.

Rab Wardell – “I just have to get stuck in!”

One man we can’t ignore is Orange Monkey’s Rab Wardell; he understands that as a professional athlete you have to engage the Press, keep them on side and make it easy to write about you. And that’s how we came to be sitting down with him in the Cafe of the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, recently.

Rest Day 1… Where We’ve Been (TDF 2012), and Tyler Farrar

We’re at the first rest day already! And it feels like the race is well on it’s way to being decided. Each day I’ve spoken about what has specifically happened in the race, and my perspective on that. We shall see where things head hence in the next fortnight, but firstly, let’s look at some of my favourite bits thus far, including Tyler Farrar.

Iain Grant – The Scottish 25 Mile TT Champion

Iain Grant won the Scottish 25. It was 1970 when I first got into cycling, the British ‘25’ record, set in 1969, stood to Alf Engers at 51:00 – it would be 1978 before that was improved upon when Eddie Adkins returned 50:50.

Dieter Kemper

It was British former motor pace rider, Six Day and road man Norman Hill who informed us of the passing of one of the Six Day Greats, at the age of 81 years; a true ‘all-rounder’ and one of the all-time Six Day Greats, ‘Rest in Peace' Dieter Kemper.