It must be the water in Mol in the Province of Antwerp, Belgium; not only is it Tom Boonen’s home town, it’s also the home town of the man who was in the team car behind him for so many of the ‘Tornado’s’ triumphs; Wilfried Peeters, sport director with the Deceuninck ‘Wolf Pack’ was a ‘Man of the Northern Classics’ in his own right.
I clicked on Hamish Haynes' name on a palmares website, just to see who it is that he's beating to win these races in Flanders; 'Melle 2005' that was Steven de Jongh - twice a Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne winner.
Two years ago, Ross Creber was a mountain biker, last year he won the Scottish road race championship. And this year he's part of Endura Racing's continental adventure; he rode the savage Tour of the Mediterranean, sat out Haut Var but will back behind the oars, ankle chains and all, for the Tour of Murcia.
In 2016 in Belgium Ethan Hayter won the tough junior races, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, GP Serge Baguet, De Klijte-Heuvaelland, was in the winning team in junior European team pursuit champs and was British Madison champion with Joe Holt. Last year he won the u23 Berlin Six Day with Matt Walls, took a medal in every British track championship he rode and was part of the winning u23 Europeans team pursuit squad. This season he began training with the senior team in January and was world champion within weeks, at 19 years-of-age.
Those HUUB/Ribble boys – our site has almost become the ‘Archibald & Gordon show,’ we’ve spoken to Jonny Wale and Dan Bigham is a regular. But what about that other lad, Jake Tipper? We’ve never spoken to him – then he went and won the Eddie Soens Handicap...
From Düsseldorf Big Marcel – not forgetting his Barnet – was the ‘schnelest.’ Not that hard to predict; it’s Belgium so it must be QuickStep - it would have been better if it was Flanders and not Wallonia but I’m being churlish. Patrick Lefevre struggling to find a sponsor? Unlikely when his boys ride like this – who wouldn’t want to be associated with this squad?
"Ja!" Screams Marcel Kittel (Etixx) as he leaps back to his feet and cuddles his soigneur after sitting on the tarmac with his head buried in his elbows to await the verdict from the photo finish technicians - he has every right to be chuffed, he’s just won Stage Four of the 2016 Tour de France. In theory it should have been one for the smaller sprinters - 600 metres @ 4% to the finish line - not a beast like Kittel but he was the man producing most watts.
Steve Beech has ridden two Milk Races and ten 12 hour races, so when he tells you that this year's Scottish '12' was the hardest one he's ever ridden, he knows what he's talking about. He's also held the Scottish record, with 275.258 miles - set in the Glasgow 12 in 1991, until Joe Wilson updated it; that distance is however, still the Scottish vets record.