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Ronde van Vlaanderen
Last year, I watched the Tour of Flanders without knowing anything about it. What I saw was the hardest, most exciting race of the year. I was more impressed with this race than Paris-Roubaix.

There were hills. There were cobbles. There were cobbled hills. There were 17 hills some of them cobbled at a 20% grade.

The boys were hammering through them and the field was decimated. Boonen left a group with Zabel and Van Petegem with 10k to go and the rest is history.

So do not miss it. Here's some viewing info:
OLN - Sunday, April 2, 2pm pacific
Eurosport - Sunday April 2, 13:00 13:00 - don't know how eurosport works.

Info:
https://www.eurosport.com/cycling/ronde-van-vlaanderen/2006/
https://www.rvv.be/2006/eng/deronde/index.html

photos:


The Koppenberg, climb #5 has a section that is 22% grade






The Kapelmur has grades of 20% and is 1k long






2005



<img src="https://www.cyclingnews.com/photos/2005/apr05/rvv05/raceday/21.jpg">

<img src="https://www.cyclingnews.com/photos/2005/apr05/rvv05/raceday/36.jpg">
Viewing tips, comments, predictions??

francois
 

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even better than watching

Even better than watching the Ronde is going there Saturday before the race. They have a small group ride on the last 100k of the course (140k ride total). By small group the offical count in 2004 was 24,000 riders. That's right-24,000!!!! Drunk people standing on the side of the hills cheering you on, echelons double file in evil wind 100 riders strong, and for the 5 Euro entry you get a plastic plaque with your name on it to prove you did it. I rode both the last 100k of Flanders and Roubaix. Roubaix is a rougher ride but going up wet cobbles at 16-20% will reduce you to nothing. I've ridden up the climbs of the NC mountains (my driveway was 16%!) but have never felt pain like going up the Flander's muirs.

Don't watch-just go for the week. . .
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
cosmo333 said:
Even better than watching the Ronde is going there Saturday before the race. They have a small group ride on the last 100k of the course (140k ride total). By small group the offical count in 2004 was 24,000 riders. That's right-24,000!!!! Drunk people standing on the side of the hills cheering you on, echelons double file in evil wind 100 riders strong, and for the 5 Euro entry you get a plastic plaque with your name on it to prove you did it. I rode both the last 100k of Flanders and Roubaix. Roubaix is a rougher ride but going up wet cobbles at 16-20% will reduce you to nothing. I've ridden up the climbs of the NC mountains (my driveway was 16%!) but have never felt pain like going up the Flander's muirs.

Don't watch-just go for the week. . .
Bugger! Got to put that on the todo list. Things to do in this life!

fc
 

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Great post and pictures francois. I can't tell you how excited I am for the Ronde, my favorite race of the year.

As for predictions...barring disaster it will be Boonen. But disaster does sometimes strike in a race like this, so don't assume it's a sure thing. I'll be at home cheering on George, but he has not been as close in Flanders as P-R, and I think he'll be lucky to podium in this field.

Silas
 

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There's a cobbled climb up here in Tacoma, WA. Average of 9%, sections of 15%, lasts about 1k. I rode it on this insane ride I did back in January. It was snowing, but only a little.

It absolutely destroyed me. And I rode up it ONCE.

This race is for crazy people.

I'm excited about it.
 

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cosmo333 said:
Even better than watching the Ronde is going there Saturday before the race. They have a small group ride on the last 100k of the course (140k ride total).
Man that sounds sooooo cool!
I have always wanted to go to Belgium & hope someday to do so.
Organized tours are pretty pricey. How hard is it to just go there & ride these rides? Is there something on the web that shows the best place for a couple cyclist to stay & ride the famous rides? Or is a organized tour the best bet?
 

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Tour of Flanders

For those interested: an overview of the hills can be found at http://www.sport.be/cycling/rondevanvlaanderen/2006/eng/parcours/hellingen.html
(sometimes you have to hit the refresh button to load the pages of the site)

Not only is the Koppenberg the steepest, it also has the worst cobbles. Even Belgian pro's like Rik Verbrugghe and Phillipe Gilbert are affraid of it in wet conditions. They say only the first 10 of the peleton will be able to climb it, the rest will have to go on foot...
 

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Yet another steep cobbled climb

For the fans of steep cobbled climbs: on this site you have some stats of the Kemmelberg, another steep cobbled hill which is climbed next wednesday in the Ghent-Wevelgem race. http://www.cyclingnews.be/hellingen/kemmelberg.php
However, the pics don't do the hill justice. When you get to the steepest part, the cobbles really look like a brick wall, nearly impossible to climb...

The eastern periode is really heaven on earth here in Belgium, all those top races (and racers) in only a few weeks.
 

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cosmo333 said:
Even better than watching the Ronde is going there Saturday before the race. They have a small group ride on the last 100k of the course (140k ride total). By small group the offical count in 2004 was 24,000 riders. That's right-24,000!!!! Drunk people standing on the side of the hills cheering you on, echelons double file in evil wind 100 riders strong, and for the 5 Euro entry you get a plastic plaque with your name on it to prove you did it. I rode both the last 100k of Flanders and Roubaix. Roubaix is a rougher ride but going up wet cobbles at 16-20% will reduce you to nothing. I've ridden up the climbs of the NC mountains (my driveway was 16%!) but have never felt pain like going up the Flander's muirs.

Don't watch-just go for the week. . .
That sounds incredible.I can't imagine riding with that many other people and having a bunch of drunk Belgies cheering me on.

As for predictions,I agree barring disaster Boonen is going to be hard to beat.He looked amazing in this race last year.
 

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Boonen will be attacked constantly. Unlike a Tour, there is no 'tomorrow' to save your legs for, no tomorrow to get one back. Imagine packing all of the intensity of a grand tour into 7 hours.

This is the Tour of Flanders.
 

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flying said:
Man that sounds sooooo cool!
I have always wanted to go to Belgium & hope someday to do so.
Organized tours are pretty pricey. How hard is it to just go there & ride these rides? Is there something on the web that shows the best place for a couple cyclist to stay & ride the famous rides? Or is a organized tour the best bet?

It's pretty easy to go on your own-the routes are marked on the road if you know who to read the painted dots. That said Belgium is small so there are a lot of dots at every corner.

That said I went with Graham Baxter Tours, www.sportingtours.co.uk. A friend did basically the same trip on his own (stayed at the same hotels even). He saved maybe $350 over the week but didn't get to meet Eddy Merckx at his factory, ride with CSC and Rodger Hammond (had lunch at his house-this was when he rode for Mr. Bookmaker) and have someone else haul your stuff around and pick up up at the end of the ride, etc. It's worth the cash as you don't have to know the roads to see the races, etc. Most guides out of the UK are much cheaper than the US based ones. If you go stay the week and see Flanders, Ghent and Roubaix. But don't take my spot on next year's trip!
 

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Predictions --

1. Boonen
2. Ballan
3. Hoste
 

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arvid said:
For those interested: an overview of the hills can be found at http://www.sport.be/cycling/rondevanvlaanderen/2006/eng/parcours/hellingen.html
(sometimes you have to hit the refresh button to load the pages of the site)

Not only is the Koppenberg the steepest, it also has the worst cobbles. Even Belgian pro's like Rik Verbrugghe and Phillipe Gilbert are affraid of it in wet conditions. They say only the first 10 of the peleton will be able to climb it, the rest will have to go on foot...
Didn't they just resurface the Koppenberg within the last few years taking some of the sting out it? Maybe it was the Kemmelberg?

IIRC,the Koppenberg is part of a cross race every year and if it is, they have resurfaced it recently.
 

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they re did the Koppenberg

but kept the sting.the cobbles had gotten really bad and they widened it just a bit. there's a site showing all the progress somewhere. yes the Ronde is the race of the year,followed by P-R. then we get Amstel, F-W and L-B-L then for me it's downhill. This is my time of the year and I'm glad folks are starting to figure it out. yes I plan on doing the Sat Randonee at some point. my buddy did it a few years back and he's a far stronger rider than I. He tells me.. 'so we got to skip the opening 40K, so there's no way in hell I'm anywhere as knackered as the pros. I hit the Koppenberg and my legs are saying 'you brought an 11-21? a-hole!'. I cracked, had to get off and push so I marked the spot. The next day I stood right where I blew to see how the pro's did it. Peter Van Petegem launched his winning attack from the spot where I was having trouble turning my cranks over. I said to myself 'that's why they are Pros'".
greatest show on earth. have some Leffe and make some Frites Yippee!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm gonna pull for George (I always do,had he not got caught out last year he had a shot)
and Van Petegem but if Boonen is healthy he will be a man to reckon with.
 

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just to give a little hint

to how geeked up I am. I commute everyday by bike (18-42 miles each direction, depending on if and when I hop on the train)

what I wore
Mon: 2000-2001 Domo Farm Frites Kit (greyish kit including socks) the year Servais took P-R in a Domo FF 4 on 1 against Hincapie (who did win Ghent)- Merckx bike
Tues: my club kit (had a track workout-mandatory)
Wed: 1999-200O Collstrop Palmans Kit - Ridley Bike CX bike with road wheels)
Th. - Bianchi Kit (in honor of Magnus who will be missing) Bianchi CX bike w/ Road wheels
Fri: 2002 Domo Farm Frites Kit (light blue) for Johann 'why did you break my heart by doping' Museeuw - Merckx bike.

yes I'm a bike geek,fred, whatever, Belgiaphile classics NUT!!!!
 

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Spunout said:
Boonen will be attacked constantly. Unlike a Tour, there is no 'tomorrow' to save your legs for, no tomorrow to get one back. Imagine packing all of the intensity of a grand tour into 7 hours.

This is the Tour of Flanders.
The problem with attacking him, is he is unlikely to be isolated and if he wants he will almost certainly be able to follow any attack you throw at him. If I thought I had the legs to get on the podium I'd follow Boonen until he makes his move or attack on the Muur which by then Boonen will surely follow. Once the winning move is made, almost undoubtedly with Boonen in it, then you can start worrying about how to get rid of him.
 

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Following Boonen: Not when there is Knaven, Pozzato, and Bettini up the road!

They'll blow apart the other teams. It all comes down to the other favourites to attack. They can't mark Boonen as his teammates are also legitimate contendas.
 
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