Sunday, July 25, 2021
HomeDiariesKuurne Brussels Kuurne 2016 Goes To Stuyven

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2016 Goes To Stuyven

-

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.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Craig’s car is ready to go. Photo©Callum McGregor

Sunday in Ghent, if there is a eurocrat responsible for the weather this weekend they have done us a good turn with the spring sun shining when we head for the car and Kuurne.

As we pull up the fans are already wandering towards the start.

The mood is relaxed after a Belgian win in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad yesterday; Greg Van Avermaet is down to ride today … is the double possible?  We will find out soon enough, although there will be plenty of guys hoping to spoil the Belgian party; Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff,  last year’s runner up to (but absent this year) Mark Cavendish.

Dave has his money on Caleb Ewan of Orica GreenEdge, a rider who impresses. Dave spots some Caleb fans and shouts words of encouragement from the car as we head in to town.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Caleb Ewan, Dave’s pick for the day. Photo©Callum McGregor

We wander and wonder, from crazy retro attired jazz band, to ex-pros like Erik Zabel and Eric Breukink, and bikes, bikes, bikes – there is plenty to see.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Eric Breukink (r). Photo©Callum McGregor

The bikes and riders are more accessible at Kuurne, although the dodging riders heading to and from the sign-in area seems to be a popular past-time with spectators.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Retro Band brings a certain atmosphere. Photo©Callum McGregor

The chances of a British double have gone, unlike last year. Luke Rowe had a hard day yesterday, will he be working for Viviani? Third last year, we’ll find out soon enough.

Eric Zabel is here again, and we spot Rik Verbrugge D’S  at IAM cycling.

There is some impressive hardware on show. Canyons,  Bianchis, Pinarellos, Wiliers all look cool. The Factor bikes of One Pro cycling fit right in amongst the best.

We note that three French teams are on foreign bikes;  BH’s being riden by Direct Energie,  Cofidis still on Orbea’s, AG2R on Focus. FOR stay true to Lapierre.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Sky’s beautiful Pinarello. Photo©Callum McGregor

Sky are parked slightly away from the other teams and we spot the Scot Andy Fenn heading to sign on.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Scotsman Andy Fenn. Photo©Callum McGregor

Viviani is also ready to race although not looking too happy, I wonder if the form isn’t what it has been?

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
A pensive Viviani before the start. Photo©Callum McGregor

One Pro have all the right gear, Yanto Barker is warming up well on the turbo, is he in for a big day?

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Yanto Barker and chums get ready. Photo©Callum McGregor

We head away from the start of the pro race to try and find the juniors from the Spokes/Limits team.

Spotting the team car we grab a quick word with some of the lads as they get organised. It’s almost time to test themselves and they look up for it.  DS, Blair Whiteside is working on the bikes and the lads are all keeping warm in the car.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
The Spokes team prep. Photo©Callum McGregor

Some of the other junior teams have equally impressive set ups, with some nice bikes on show too.

As I take a photo a team helper tells me to look out for young Mr. Kroon on his Python who I’m told will top ten today.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Andreas Kroon leads the junior race up the Kwaremont and finished up 6th on the day. Photo©Callum McGregor

Having soaked up the atmosphere of the start area and sign on we head for the Mokka,  our wheels for the weekend. Not the coolest name for a car but we couldn’t stretch to the latest Ford Mustang upgrade we were offered.

Our first rendezvous with the race is the main road climb of the Edalareberg.

The pro’s are first past with the tempo on. As the break passes with about a dozen riders already five minutes up, and right there, looking relaxed is Yanto from One Pro.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Yanto Barker in the break. Photo©Callum McGregor

His team helpers opposite give him a shout as the riders continue to press their advantage.

When the bunch appears they don’t look too worried – and as we saw yesterday, Peter Sagan is sitting very close to the back again, taking it easy.

Once the pro’s have gone we retreat to the heat of the car and await the juniors.

We almost wait too long but Dave spots them charging up the hill and we are out in a flash, in time to see Grant Martin cruise past in third place.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Grant Martin does well on the Edalareberg. Photo©Callum McGregor

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Martin’s teammate, Tim Jones, isn’t far behind. Photo©Callum McGregor

Our next stop is at the top of the Oude Kwaremont to catch the juniors again.

We don’t have too long to wait and now the race is falling to bits. Two riders have opened a 15 second advantage and the bunch is exploding behind.

Grant is still in the mix but not looking as relaxed. There are bodies everywhere!

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
If it looks hard, it’s because it is. Photo©Callum McGregor

After the juniors continue on their way there’s not much time for us to get to the the top of the Côte De Trieu to see the pro’s again.

We make it, the break is still away and working well.

The wind is brutal and the guys up front know there is no point trying to look strong at this point, better to combine for as long as possible.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
The top of the Kwaremont. Photo©Callum McGregor

Behind the bunch is warming up and there are some gaps appearing.

Big Stijn Vandenbergh and Etixx Quick Step are pushing on, it’s getting sore in the line.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Stijn at the sharp end over the Côte de Trieu. Photo©Callum McGregor

After the bunch has passed there is a mad dash by fans of all ages to get down to the Kwaremont before the break appears.

We reckon we have about eight minutes to get there.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
The mad dash to the next view spot. Photo©Callum McGregor

Team helpers are set up after the cobbles on the main road with spare wheels and bottles depending on what is needed.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Team helpers await the race. Photo©Callum McGregor

The Kwaremont is busy but we find a space and just in time as the break powers past.

One rider has been detached but gets back on the descent.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Estonian champion Gert Jõeäär on the Kwaremont. Photo©Callum McGregor

The bunch appears four minutes later and it’s that man Sagan resplendent in rainbow jersey leading the way this time.

On his wheel is Trek Segafredo rider Jasper Stuyven, impressive yesterday managing ninth after sliding out as he attempted to get up to the break on his own. Is this to be his day?

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
World Champ Sagan and Stuyven lead the charge. Photo©Callum McGregor

There is carnage in their wake.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Bora’s Jérôme Cousin and mates don’t look too unhappy about heading for an early shower. Photo©Callum McGregor

Sky’s Luke Rowe is well to the fore and clearly not feeling that bad after yesterday. Similarly Greg Van Avermaet of BMC is right up there too.

Not looking quite so clever is Elia Viviani who is well out the back… he must have had a technical problem.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Vivian knocks it back a gear. Photo©Callum McGregor

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Last man on the road, Tony Hurel of Direct Energie. Photo©Callum McGregor

Our next stop is the pub where the TV is on Sporza live and in HD. We get the perfect seats and settle in for the last 70kms.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
A nice hostelry with an HD tv. Photo©Callum McGregor

The early break is eventually caught and in the crosswinds there are several groups on the road.

Sagan is on the wrong side of the split and not committing too many teammates to the chase.

Up front the leaders reach the finishing circuit, where they have 2 laps to complete.

Jasper Stuyven has clearly recovered well and goes it alone with 17kms to go. He looks super strong and pulls out a forty second advantage. Can he hold on?

The chase behind is not particularly well organised but eventually Etixx Quick Step with Tom Boonen and Julie Vermote give chase.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
The bar provides a warm welcome and a wide selection of beers. Perfect. Photo©Callum McGregor

Behind them the remnants of the bunch are closing but into the last kilometre it looks like Stuyven will hold on.

Not quite as smooth as he had been there is still plenty of power and he holds on for a great win.

The weekend has been a great success for the Belgian and their fans. The perfect start to the classics season.

So what of the Spokes juniors?

I speak to Craig as they are heading for the ferry; Grant Martin finished 12th – a great result and the rest of the guys reach the finishing circuit, making it a good solid start to their European campaign of 2016.

Well done to them – we look forward to hearing about their next adventure.

Related Articles

Jayden Copp – Aussie Winner of the Sint Katelijine Waver Kermis 2014

If you’re not on one of the National Federation programmes there’s only one way to catch the eye and sign that coveted first pro contract. That is, either as an individual or with your team you head for Belgium, France or Italy and fight for results. It’s the time honoured way, good enough for Tom Simpson, Robert Millar and David Millar. A name which caught our eye recently in the Belgian kermises was 23 year-old Aussie, Jayden Copp (Bianchi DCM Arbitrage) with two fourth places, a second then a win. Well worth a word we thought.

Wilfried Peeters – Deceuninck DS is a True Flandrien!

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.

Flatlands Friday – Preparing for Het Nieuwsblad 2019 and KBK

It's the start of the season proper with UCI World Tour Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and UCI 1.1 HC Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday. It was a tad savage when the alarm blasted at 03:10 on Friday but on the other side of the scales we were on Belgian soil bright and early.

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.

Up and Running, First Win in Ghoy, Belgium!

Well It's been on the cards all season and last weekend in the town of Ghoy I took my first win in Belgium. Like always the attacks came from km 1 and I managed to get away midway through the first lap - and this was to be the move that stuck.

Russell Downing – Relishing the Ronde

Having had Michael Mørkøv’s take on de Ronde, we thought we’d chat to a man a bit closer to home about his experiences in what is at least in the top three of the world’s single day races – along with Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix. The Tour of Flanders was one of the few races left on Russell Downing’s ‘to do’ list – but now he can wear the T-shirt.

At Random

Paul Martens – Tour of Luxemburg 2013 Winner

Who’s Paul Martens? He’s a solid professional, comes from Rostock in Germany and rides for Belkin. And back in June he joined that exclusive club of national tour winners, taking the Tour of Luxembourg – a result rather lost in the pre-Tour hysteria.

Bremen Six Day 2020; the First Three Nights

Patti Smith is telling me at pain threshold levels; ‘because the night belongs to lovers.’ No girl! It belongs to that bed in the camper van which I’m using my last dregs of energy to reach. The racing may be over for the night at the Bremen Six Day 2020 but the party is 100% ON, Bremen isn’t called the ‘Party Six’ for nothing.

John Archibald – On the Cusp of a New Adventure

The last time we spoke to John Archibald he’d just won the Scottish Road Race Championship; since then he’s won a medal in the inaugural ‘mixed’ TTT Worlds in Harrogate, ridden well in the individual Worlds TT, enjoyed a World Cup in Minsk which saw him bested only by Filippo Ganna in the individual pursuit...

James McKay Blog – Ronde des Combattants puts hairs on my chest!

I was on a high from last week’s success before the Ronde des Combattants, a race with four stages over three days in Verdun. Teams were competing from Luxemburg, Germany and even a team from the CCM (UCI World Cycling Centre) in Switzerland (who host riders from poor countries without the support of large national federations).

Le Tour de France 2016 – Stage 3; Granville – Angers. Cavendish by an inch!

After a gruesomely boring stage where one man – albeit latterly assisted by Tommy V – held off the pack for 200 K it was another day of joy for Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish; just too quick for Greipel, Coquard and Sagan on a slightly uphill finish into Angers. Kittel looked to be well placed at the red kite but got it wrong on the final right hander to finish well out of it. Greipel reckoned maybe he was one cog too high in the finish on 54 x 11 – Cav’s choice of gear was just fine though.

Giro d’Italia – Day 7: Stage 6, Tivoli – Spoleto

It's our last stage today, it's Friday morning and we're in Tivoli, headed for Spoleto. Yesterday was an up and down sort of day, although by the sixth grappa last night it seemed fine. We left our hotel (as featured in George A Romero's movie - Zombies, Dawn of the Dead) and headed for the stage start at Teano, we would never have found it if we hadn't tagged-on to the Mavic neutral service cars.