Tour of Flanders - a course change gone wrong
Change isn't always for the best.
course allows less movement by the spectators and hence provides possibilities for optimizing service and safety measures in the finish area.” That’s marketing speak for, “We can merchandize the heck out of this area!” Yes, there’s gold to be made in them thar hills!
Pros spoke out against the removal of these two climbs.
“But I believe that the organizers made a wrong choice by simply replacing the old finale. The Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg cannot be erased from the Ronde,” said two-time winner Stijn Devolder.
Previous winner Sylvain Chavanel told L’Equipe after the race, “The circuit is so difficult that it blocks the race. Nobody wants to take risk before the last lap.”
With the Muur and Bosberg erased from the course map it changes the dynamics of the race. We were treated to a breakaway dangling off the front with less than a minute lead and a 60 rider strong group keeping it in check. We witnessed a sight never seen before - at the 35 kilometers to go mark we still had a huge bunch.
It wasn’t until the final ascent up the Oude Kwaremont we got an inkling of drama. Finally, on the Paterberg did our heart rates jump when Fabs dropped Sagan and Roelandts with a strong in-the-saddle surge up the climb. Game over.
“Peter (Sagan) and I came up to Roelandts then and I knew I had to go again to get away from Peter. It happened like we’ve been planning for months,” Cancellara said after the race.
Spartacus won in 2010 - a Muur and Bosberg included Flanders. As of this writing I haven’t seen a comment from him referring to which victory means the most to him. I suspect that’s like asking which of your children is your favorite. Certainly having his wife at this year’s edition is always going to hold a special place in his heart.
For Belgians the Muur and Bosberg will always be a part of Ronde van Vlaanderen. Their exclusion tore out the excitement of the event and we were left with a race that was unremarkable in drama except for Fabs riding away on the Paterberg.
But maybe that’s modern cycling? Gone are the turbo-charged attacks with several bergs remaining. A “cleaner” peloton means the racing is more calculated with an attack coming closer to the finish. No more “epic” escapes from 60 plus kilometers out. No chance of sequels to Jørgen Leth’s legendary cycling films.
This new course is considered harder as was witnessed on the Kwaremont. The pack would splinter and then come back together, with no group of riders delivering the killer blow to the field. Instead the group splintered and regrouped over and over and over...
The result was a win by the strongest rider. While that sounds all fine and good, don’t we want something that will leave us guessing until the end like an Agatha Christie novel? Instead we got a Transformers movie where the strongest guy beat the crap out of everyone and won. Predictable. Sporting events aren’t supposed