Roadside Report: After the cold and rain of Saturday's 'Flanders Classics' Het Nieuwsblad, Sunday dawned clear and sunny for a perfect day of racing action roadside in Belgium at the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Race Analysis: After a solid weekend of Semi Classic racing in Belgium we turn to our resident expert Lee Rodgers to analyze the action and results of the opening races and to ask the eternal question, What's the difference between a good rider and a great rider?
Roadside Report: Out there in the rain and cold at the Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday was our battle hardened reporter Ed Hood who wouldn't have dreamed of being anywhere else. With the hard man ingredients of cold & cobbles with perhaps the odd Belgian beer to warm him up, it was the perfect start to the Classics campaign.
Race Report: The first weekend of northern cobbles have jarred the bones, shaken the senses and quickened the pulse. It's only a month until Flanders, and Roubaix! Today's 2014 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne revealed some very interesting shows of strength from certain teams; for others, a lot of work to be done and a few hard truths to hear.
Race Report: The cobbled races started today with the 2014 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and it was a classic battle in terrible weather that came down to the sprint between two hardmen of the peloton, Ian Stannard and Greg Van Avermaet.
Race Preview: Het Nieuwsblad kicks it all off on the Saturday then the following day the circus moves south to Kuurne for the semi-classic Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. The race has similarities with ‘big brother’ the previous day; it’s on the 200 K mark and it ventures into the Flemish Ardennes above Oudenaarde and PEZ will be roadside.
Race preview: Saturday’s 69th edition of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad signals the start of the Classics series as the best in the world take on this semi-classic on the famous Flanders cobbles. Ed Hood will be there roadside this weekend but before he flew out he checks in with a full preview of the action ahead.
Roadside: On Sunday April 8th, I had the once again once in a lifetime experience of chasing the most feared Monument of the year – Paris-Roubaix. And just like my ride across these hellish roads a couple days prior, this day was nothing short of ‘epic’.
Roadside: We've been chasing the cobbled classics since the Omloop in February. With Sunday's Paris-Roubaix the cobbled classic season culminated in legendary fashion, and we were incredibly fortunate to chase the race with former Roubaix podium finisher, Roger Hammond and seen-everything-there-is-to-see soigneur, Bart Brackez.
Preview: ‘It’s a circus and I don’t want to be one of the clowns!’ It’s not everyone who thinks that Paris-Roubaix is ‘Queen of the Classics’ – those were the words of Chrono King, Chris Boardman. But for some, it’s an obsession; it took Frenchman Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle 14 attempts before he finally hoisted that coveted cobble stone above his head, at age 38.
Roadside: The Tour of Flanders defines this region, and for many fans it defines the Spring Classics themselves, but the race itself would be almost nothing without its steep nasty bergs, and of course… the cobbles. I was here for a healthy dose of both at the 2012 Flanders Cyclosportif…
Part Two: When we left off yesterday, the dust storming field had just rolled through Sector 27 in Troisvilles. 26 more sectors lay ahead of them, and we were off to get hold of as many cobbled views as we could before a winner was crowned in the velodrome on a heavenly Sunday afternoon in Hell.
Part One: The cobbled classics often get lumped together, and for the two super cobbled classics, Flanders and Roubaix, they're rarely mentioned in separate sentences. It's a shame, because the two races can't be more different. De Ronde is justifiably known as Flanders's Most Beautiful, whilst Roubaix - her nickname is just as appropriate and perfect: the Hell of the North. We were there once again on Sunday, chasing the dust to Roubaix.
‘It’s a pile of shit, this race. It’s a whole pile of shit. You race through mud like this. You haven’t the time to piss. You ride and you piss in your pants. It’s a whole pile of shit.’ ‘Will you race here again?’ ‘Of course; it’s the most beautiful race in the world!’
If you grew up during the ‘Golden Age’ of 70’s bike racing and you’re a connoisseur of the Belgian semi-classics, then the lumping together on a weekend of the 54th E3-Prijs Harelbeke and 73rd Gent-Wevelgem is a bit of a worry; it smacks of ‘marketing’ to us. But we’re like the dinosaurs; we’ll be extinct soon – and we still have the kermises out in the cabbage fields.
Roadside Stage 3: We spent a lot of time in the start village of yesterday's stage discussing what might and might not happen in the 213km run from Wanze in Belgium to Arenberg Porte Du Hainaut in France today. Today was our chance to leave the riders to it and hit the road as we crossed from Belgium to France.
The Dutch are pretty protective of their only classic - the Amstel Gold Race - of the first 21 editions the home nation took 11 wins. But in 1987 it took three of Holland’s finest riders to stop a handsome, blond 25-year-old from Sheffield taking the honours across the North Sea to England.
To fully appreciate the beauty and pain that is Paris-Roubaix, one must understand how this race was born, and the battles that shaped her into the Queen she is today… No true racer would be satisfied with only a view to the upcoming race-day – no way no how!
On a day better suited to the beach than standing in dust clouds amongst the mining-country of normally bleak northern France, the sun shone and blessed one and all with a summer–like day. The best place to be on a dry and dusty course was at the front – where CSC’s Stuart O’Grady spent most of his journey into the record books.
It was a day of historic – and epic – proportions. We’d journeyed far, across continents, oceans, and the toughest roads in Europe, to arrive at the route for Sunday’s Hell of the North – Paris-Roubaix. Me and my butt found out first hand what it’s like to ride the “pavй”.