Wednesday, October 27, 2021
HomeDiariesHet Nieuwsblad 2018 goes to Michael Valgren Andersen

Het Nieuwsblad 2018 goes to Michael Valgren Andersen

It's Astana's day. Not one of the greatest Het Nieuwsblads we've witnessed but it was a horrible day, way below zero with the wind chill, all day.

-

Ooooohhhhhhh!” The moan echoes around the bar; these boys are aficionados, they all know that solid Astana Dane, Michael Valgren Andersen isn’t coming back – he timed his jump to perfection, there was that fatal second or two of hesitation among the frozen men behind him and he was gone, en route to win Het Nieuwsblad 2018.

Big Pole Lukasz Wisniowski (Sky) takes second with the only Belgian who properly ‘honoured the race,’ big Sep Vanmarcke (EF) taking third place.

Viktor the VeloVeritas soothe sayer is on the phone from Scotland not long after, he brands this edition of Het Nieuwsblad, ‘diabolic‘ and he doesn’t mean just the weather.

He has a point, QuickStep and Lotto-Soudal with Gilbert (5th) ‘Stybie’ (20th) for the flooring team and Benoot (59th) Wellens (69th) for the lottery boys made no headlines.

Nor did BMC’s Olympic champion, GVA, winner for the last two years, who could do no better than 50th place.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

We arrived on Friday night in time to see the mechanics washing the buses in freezing conditions it’s not all glam tinkering with Di 2 in the sun for these guys.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

It was no warmer next morning, with the ponds around the Kuipke velodrome frozen solid.

For the second year the race was World Tour with the glitzy presentation held in the Kuipke and the big space next door which housed a great exposition back in the 30’s.

The production is too ‘blingy’ for us, we liked it better when the busses lined up in the street just down the road.

Now, the teams enter on to a stage in the track centre to theme music.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Bahrain come in to the Miami Vice tune, ‘Crockett’s Theme‘ – in honour of the desert team’s other ‘Sonny,’ as in Colbrelli.

But it’s a wee bit before young Mr. Colbrelli’s time and rather zoomed over his head.

We’re soon bored and head back outside.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Out in the bus park the Wout Van Aert (Verandas Willems) fan club were full of expectation for the World ‘cross champ in the biggest road race of his career, thus far.

Albeit last year he won the GP Pino Cerami, Ronde van Limburg and Bruges Cycling Classic.

He rode creditably, making the big break in the finale and would end in 32nd spot – already the Belgian Media are tipping him for Paris-Roubaix.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

The ladies race starts at the same place and local heroine, Belgian National Champion, Jolien D’hoore was happy to pose for pictures, she’d end the day in eighth spot behind Danish girl, Christina Siggaard.

She’d do better next day in the Omloop Van Het Hageland where she finished third behind Dutch star Ellen Van Dijk.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

We saw the race for the first time at Oombergen with 10 clear in bitter conditions, 3:50 the gap.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

The peloton wasn’t panicking but grafters supreme, Fran Ventoso (BMC & Spain) and Iljo Keisse (QuickStep & Belgian) were on point and making sure things didn’t get out of hand.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

We managed to catch the ladies’ race early too, with the big peloton splitting round a traffic island; and a few girls who were off the back taking full advantage of the team cars.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Next time we caught the bunch Ventoso and Keisse were still leading a strung out, freezing peloton.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

The third time we caught them saw Iljo still at the front with team mate Stybie looking sharp and the speed definitely stepped up.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Phil Gil didn’t look to be enjoying it but then very few were, least of all the soigneurs, who had to hang around in the cold.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

The Katterberg, long straight, cobbled and horrible with the break still clear by 3:10 but having shed a couple.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

The peloton wasn’t full gas but neither was there any banter.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Faces picked out as the tightly packed, chilled, unhappy phalanx trundled past included Danish Champion, Mads Pedersen and tough Kazakh, Lutsenko.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Callum Macgregor

It wasn’t too long before we caught the race again, near Schorisse with their lead almost gone and peloton volume turned up to nine.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

The end of the Haaghoek cobbles is always a good spot; the soigneurs chat to kill time and our old chum Dirk Dekeyser, the Trek mechanic tries to keep warm in the icy blast.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Oliver Naesen keeps an eye on us as we await the race.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

There’s just one, ‘dead man walking,’ big Lithuanian, Saramontins surviving from the break – but they’ll nail him on the next climb, the Leberg.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

The shadows are lengthening as the peloton screams by in line astern with old warhorse and twice Flanders winner Stijn Devolder easily identifiable by his Belgian champion’s stripes.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

We find our bar for the finale, the ‘Wheeler Cafe’ it’s rammed and loud but at least it’s warm – but the coffee is really bad.

There are splits and big Sep Vanmarcke launches a huge attack on the Kappelmuur but coming into the red kite it looks like it’s gelling for a bunch split with the last split set to be absorbed.

But as we said at the start, Valgren times it just right.

Het Nieuwsblad 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Initially there’s a huge roar of approval in our bar, it’s home to one of Wout Van Aert’s fan clubs and from the helicopter shot the pale blue of Astana can be mistaken for the pale blue of Crelan, the young Belgian’s team.

But the roar soon turns to the despairing moan we mentioned earlier.

Despite his earlier efforts, Big Sep reacts as does Wisniowski, who not so long ago was off the back; the lanky Sky man steals second with Sep third with the breath of a blanket finish hot on their collars.

But it’s Astana’s day.

Not one of the greatest Het Nieuwsblads we’ve witnessed but it was a horrible day, way below zero with the wind chill, all day.

Then there was that headwind finish and the inclusion of the Kapelmuur and Bosberg late in the day – everyone was frozen and wasted so these two famous climbs were far from decisive.

Kuurne tomorrow, if nothing else we’ll get a much better look at the bikes before the race with the teams parking up in the start/finish straight.

The cold is even more intense as the shadows lengthen even further but our fave bar, the Vivaldi is always cosy…

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

Llewellyn Kinch – Two Wins from 13 Starts in Belgian Kermises

Our man with his finger on the Flanders pulse, Vik, first tipped us off about this gentleman at the end of the 2011 season. Llewellyn Kinch was getting up there on the Belgian results websites and onto Vik’s radar. Here are the background questions we asked, from the end of the 2011 season.

Peter Hawkins – “if you do the work you do see the fruits of your labours”

Our pal Viktor has been hard at work; it's not everyone who could do his job, those long hours huddled over a computer screen, day in, day out - checking those Belgian cycling results websites. Lifting his head only to make another coffee ("sometimes my fingertips tingle with the caffeine"), or to phone me; "Ed, there's a boy you should be talking to..."

Luke Ryan – Nipping Over to Belgium and Winning on the Kermis circuit

It’s high time we looked east again, across the North Sea to where bike racing isn’t an aberration, where it’s in the soil and a barrier to hang over with your Jupiler and frites is never far away. A name which we’ve seen cropping up this year is that of Luke Ryan (Richardsons-Trek Road Team) and recently he won a kermis at Torhout. There’s a man to have a word with...

KBC Driedaagse van De Panne-Koksijde – Day 2, Middelkerke to Zottegem

Stage one is Middelkerke (home to the Tom Boonen fan club) to Zottegem, wearing-on for 200 K, when you include two laps of a circuit in the 'bergs' near Oudenaarde. All of the hills which give Het Volk, Kuurne, De Panne and Flanders their particular character are contained within a relatively small area.

Douglas Dewey – “I have to start proving I can make it”

It was back in the spring when we last spoke to Douglas Dewey; he’d just won Gent-Staden, the first big race on the Belgian amateur calendar. Since then he’s ridden a very varied programme, including stage races in France and Belgium, hard fought kermises, a silver medal in the British Elite TT Championships and bronze in the British Pursuit Championship.

Geert Omloop – “I went from unknown pro to Belgian Champion”

‘Coolness’ is hard to define, most professional riders are smart, well turned out but only a few are ‘cool.’ Belgian Geert Omloop was one such rider but not only was he cool, he was hard as nails, a master of the art of the kermis and on his day capable of beating Belgium’s very best to win the National Elite Road Race Championships.

At Random

Mark Donovan – on winning the Aubel-Thimister-La Gleize stage race

Here at VeloVeritas we try to keep abreast of what’s going on across in Europe, one result which caught our recently eye was young Mark Donovan winning the Aubel-Thimister-La Gleize junior stage race in Belgium. Never an easy thing to do against all those would-be GVA’s. Best ‘have a word.’

Giro d’Italia 2012 – Stage 1: Herning (ITT) 8.7km. The Head Says Phinney

'My heart says Alex, but my head says Phinney,' my statement as I walked out the door of our rented cottage in search of a stable wi-fi connection. I would have loved Alex Rasmussen to win, but something told me that he wasn't 'sparkling' for the Giro d'Italia 2012 - Stage 1.

Gent Six Day 2012 – Friday Night

Here in Gent Friday night has always been the big night of the Gent Six Day 2012. It's not just about the beer, it’s about the cycling and fans of all ages bring the wife or girlfriend to what is for all concerned a big night out. A number of the revellers are ex-riders many of whom no doubt spend the night reminiscing on their time pedalling around the hollowed boards of Het Kuipke.

Bert Roesems and Rab Wardell #1 – In the Mix at the Rás

Whilst the world goes 'Giro crazy,' other races that don't involve pink jerseys go on their way without Lance and all the hype-the FDB Insurance Rás is one of them. When Viktor and I heard that Nico Eeckhout, Jaan Kirsipuu and Bert Roesems were riding, we nearly hopped the ferry to Ireland there and then.

Tomás Swift-Metcalfe’s Blog: The Season Starts…

The Tomás Swift-Metcalfe season has started, my sixth season as a professional. The weather here has been brilliant (a little cold at 10-12ºC) but always sunny and it's been fantastic training up for these races.

Dan Patten’s Blog – Back in the Game!

Dan Patten's Blog - So, I'm recovering well - so well in fact that I came my closest to date to winning here in Belgium last Sunday, finally ending up in 3rd place, but so close to taking the win.