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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sky are parked slightly away from the other teams and we spot the Scot Andy Fenn heading to sign on.
Viviani is also ready to race although not looking too happy, I wonder if the form isn’t what it has been?
One Pro have all the right gear, Yanto Barker is warming up well on the turbo, is he in for a big day?