Sunday, October 17, 2021
HomeDiariesMonday in the Flatlands

Monday in the Flatlands

-

Mondays in the flatlands of Belgium aren’t the best; most shops are shut but the flight back to Auld Scotia isn’t ‘til late so use has to be made of the time available.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

Looking out of the window on Monday morning, the man across the road has his priorities right – ‘keep that Jupiler cold!’

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

John had only seen the top of the Oude Kwaremont on Sunday so we took him for a drive all the way down; it’s easy to forget just how mad it is.

The whole climb is cobbled and there’s a false flat in the middle which is paradoxically one of the hardest parts of the climb given it’s lack of banks or hedges and full exposure to the cross winds.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

QuickStep are looking for ways to make money, they have no main sponsor signed for 2019 and they’re up to all sorts to make a Euro.

They’ve opened a ‘pop up’ shop in the big shopping centre in Kortrijk in an empty retail unit.

The first thing to greet you is Tony Martin’s world championship winning Specialized Shiv complete with 58 tooth chain ring – ‘the full tool’ as my rallying chums used to say.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

Tomeke’s Paris-Roubaix steed is there and also a selection of his bikes through the years.

The big man from Mol recently announced that he’s going to be an ‘adviser’ with QuickStep’s World Tour rivals, Lotto-Soudal – perhaps a symptom of the flooring teams lack of funds that they couldn’t afford what Boonen’s manager, Paul de Geyter was asking for him to do the same job for Patrick Lefevre’s team.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

On the subject of money, this display shows the size of the operation which Lefevre runs – he has one girl whose sole, full time job is to organise flights for riders and staff.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

Kwiatkowski’s Worlds winning machine was there too, still with the Ponferrada dust on it.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

Oudenaarde and the Tour of Flanders Museum with Greg Van Avermaet looking sharper than he did the previous two days.

Viktor reckons that his lacklustre weekend was caused by all that time he’s spent in the desert and Spain.

Flanders lions Museeuw and Van Petegem both swore by the fact that a contender’s preparation for the cobbled classics had to take place in the wind and rain of Flanders not in the heat of the ‘soft south.’

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

The Museum is a great place but the curation could be better, with non-authentic equipment on some of the machines; Shimano gears with Campag gear levers, to name but one.

This line up includes Tom Simpson’s 1961 winning machine which was lovingly restored by Dave Marsh – so no complaints about provenance on that one.

Kristoff’s winning machine from 2015 is at the end of the line.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

The Flandria, Peugeot car is pretty authentic though.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

You can even sample the cobbles on this simulation rig, grass track great John Hardie reckons it’s not as bumpy as Markinch Games Park after a dry spell.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

Just by good fortune, Johan Museeuw appeared and was happy to pose with John for a picture.

Johan; an all time great who did what he had to do or a dirty doper?

I rather go with the former.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

No British rider has ever made the podium in Flanders before or after the late, great Tom Simpson who won the race at 23 years-of-age; as well as winning he was fifth and third in the next two editions.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

The chapel at the top of the Geraardsbergen ‘chapel wall’ is a lovely spot, it flashes past in TV coverage of the race but on a quiet Monday afternoon it’s an idyllic – if cold – spot.

On race days it’s crazy.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

De Karper (The Fisherman) is our second favourite bar in Gent, the Vivaldi is our fave – where the pils is cold, the tunes great and the clientele eccentric with a capital ‘E.’

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

But we’ve been going to De Karper for maybe 12 years, that’s owner Ronie Keisse (Iljo’s dad) in the checkit shirt in this shot with Dirk Van Hove, Dave Chapman and our sage and advisor Viktor (before he renounced attending Het Nieuwsblad as it’s now ‘too glitzy and commercial’).

Ronie took over the lease of the bar some 15 years ago, when he moved in it had been, ‘The Irish Rover’ for a few years but the locals knew as it’s previous incarnation, ‘The Fisherman’ so Ronie took it back to it’s old name.

Gent is a big university city and De Karper is one of the students’ favourite hang outs – with a Monday night being their most popular night of choice.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

It’s traditional for the winners of the Gent Six Day – Iljo has won it six times – to party after the race at De Karper, the walls are covered in cool pictures of previous winners.

Here’s ‘our Brad’ and Mrs. Brad from the other year.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

This picture is of Iljo winning the final stage of the Giro in 2015; we watched from the roadside as he broke away with big Aussie powerhouse, Luke Durbridge and as the laps ticked down it became apparent they were going to ‘make it’ – and there would only be one winner.

Flatlands
Ronie Kiesse in his bar, with the old Kuipke bell. Photo©Ed Hood

This is the old lap bell from the Kuipke, gifted to Iljo after his third win; as well as his six wins he’s been second four times and third once.

However, all good things must come to an end and it was time to joust with the Belgian motorway ‘crazies’ on the way down to Charleroi.

Flatlands
Photo©Ed Hood

Still, it’ll be time for the Six Day before you know it.

Ciao, ciao.

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

A Weekend in the Flatlands; Het Nieuwsblad 2013 and a Cancelled KBK

VeloVeritas and chums were over at the Belgian season opening Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne Brussels Kuurne semi-classics. Unfortunately the latter was cancelled but we still snapped away – here’s a selection of our favourite images from the weekend.

Star of the Future: Calum Anderton – The GHS ’10’ Winner’s Move to Belgium

The GHS ‘10’ – as in George Herbert Stancer (OBE, 1878 – 1962), racer, journalist, cycling administrator and the man who lends his name to the British juvenile ten mile championship. Stancer was a champion of the race against the watch and the event was first organised to honour his memory and encourage youngsters to ride in time trials. On many occasions the winner has gone on to win the junior BBAR and then ...

Dean Downing – Still Living His Dream

This is the first in a series of articles in which we explore racing in Belgium, and chat to a few guys that "have done it the hard way", outside of "The Plan", and on their own. To kick us off, we caught up with Rapha Condor star Dean Downing between Tour Series criteriums.

Angus Claxton – from Plockton to Kortrijk

According to our research, the village of Plockton in Ross and Cromarty has a population of 378 – but it should actually be ‘377 and one would-be Kermis King.’ And you thought Plockton was only famous for ‘Hamish Macbeth’ and one of VeloVeritas’s favourite movies, ‘The Wicker man.’ Enter young Angus Claxton...

Craig Wallace – a First Season in Belgium

It’s not just Michael Nicholson who’s out there among the cobbles, crosswinds and kermises – there’s another Scottish name to be found on the Heartland start sheets, that of Aberdeen's Mr. Craig Wallace.

Sean Newington – Ready to Move Up a Level

hatever happened to Sean Newington?' says me to Vik. The next day, Vik's back on the phone: 'he's in Belgium - I saw his name in the results.' Time for that detective work!

At Random

Le Tour de France 2013 – Stage 4: Nice > Nice, 25km TTT. GreenEDGE Edge It!

'GreenEDGE will be on a high' we said of their chances in the TTT – and they exploited it in the best way possible. There’s a lot of luck involved in professional cycling and it was Sky and QuickStep’s turn for that particular lady to desert them, this time around.

The Glasgow Grand Prix 2008

The Tour of Britain's penultimate stage departed from Glasgow Green today, taking the peloton south to the beautiful setting of Drumlanrig Castle in the Southern Uplands. The Glasgow Grand Prix took advantage of the closed circuit and the watching crowds, with two events following immediately after the ToB departure.

Marco Pinotti – “The Cycling Professor”, This is His Story

Italian professional Marco Pinotti's new book, "The Cycling Professor" isn't so much a classic biography as a collection of anecdotes and experiences.

Paris – Roubaix 2007 – Day 3, Bike Skek & Teams Presentation

The Saturday gig for Paris - Roubaix 2007 was to do a piece on the velos, so it was down to the start at Compiegne, and collect our creds. ASO didn't let us down; "I have credentials for you, but not your driver!". I won't bore you, but it was several hours and more of that patience-stuff later before we got the vital bits of string and plastic.

Cedric Sachet – the Frenchman causing a stir at the Highland Games

Scottish cycling’s super fan and grass track aficionado, Harry Tweed posted some pics of a gentleman named Cedric Sachet racing on the grass track with a bottle cage and Garmin at Ceres Highland Games, the other week. Purists like me were horrified.

Hope Technology Unveil Groundbreaking Track Bike

Hope Technology and Lotus Engineering have unveiled their exciting cycling collaboration – an innovative new track bike designed to help the Great Britain Cycling Team (GBCT) achieve their best possible performances in the hunt for medals at next summer’s Olympic Games.