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.
Cav has settled another ghost, it was 1967 when Tom Simpson last won the world championships for Great Britain. In Copenhagen last autumn the Manx man became the second Briton to don the rainbow jersey. But it was way back in 1959 when Ireland's Seamus Elliott became the first and only rider from the British Isles to win Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne - until Sunday, that is.
You can't keep a man like Ed Hood away from the races. Every year, as the Belgian opening weekend approaches, the tickets are booked, and he's there, like clockwork. Let's take a look back at Ed's day chasing and watching the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, or Gent-Gent as the classicists prefer.
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.
There are very few climbs in modern bike racing that can bring a bike racer to his knees. With the evolution of intelligent gearings, the steepest climbs have been tamed, well, as much as they can be. The Koppenberg, however, defies all technological advances and takes us back to a time when plodding upward on foot was just as common of a means of forward movement as pedaling.
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.
It's the world's slowest sprint; Sebastian Langeveld and Juan Antonio Flecha are both wasted, small wonder, the Dutchman has been out front for the last quarter of the race on this foulest of days, and the man from Argentina has made a monstrous effort to bridge, over the concrete section and cobbles. They both look over geared as they lunge, swerve, rock and heave towards the line.