Archive for February 24th, 2021

The PEZ Preview: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Who’s Hot?

02/24/2021 12:05

Race preview: The 2021 road season ‘proper’ starts this Saturday with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in the heart of cycling mad Flanders. Ed Hood would normally be ‘Roadside’ in Belgium, but… Here is his preview of the season opener.

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Het Volk, Gent-Gent or Het Nieuwsblad

The racing year is well underway already, with results from New Zealand, Australia, South America, Spain and France. But is it? Not according to PEZ soothsayer Viktor; “flim, flam, glamour races, the season only starts with Gent-Gent!”

uae tour
No real racing before ‘Gent-Gent’

Whilst most now refer to Het Nieuwsblad as the ‘Omloop,’ old timers still call it, ‘Gent-Gent’ from the days when it was ‘Het Volk’ and newspapers weren’t keen on giving rival journals free publicity. Vik has a point, the race is well up there in the rankings of races a Belgian would commit homicide for, second only to de Ronde.

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Het Volk 1984

This will be edition 76 and the fact that 57 of the 75 editions held thus far have been won by Home Boys endorses my previous statement. Which nation is second in the rankings? The Netherlands and Italy are on a distant four each with GB an honourable fourth ranked on two wins thanks to that big man, Ian Stannard – but more of him shortly.

Ian Stannard in the Omloop 2014

I’d love to give you the specifics of the parcours but the organisers are keeping that under wraps to discourage diehard fans from sleeping up trees and in ditches to dodge security. Last year’s parcours looked like this:

het nieuwsblad

het nieuwsblad

It’s a safe bet that 2021 will be along similar lines, as I said last year: ‘Some 200 unforgiving kilometres through unglamorous Flemish farmland including nine sections of cobbles – ‘kasseien’ – and 13 mostly cobbled, short sharp jousts with gravity called, ‘hellingen’. The last two are tapped right into the nostalgia well – the savage Muur van Geraardsbergen/Kapelmuur at 183 kilometres and the less severe but deceptively strength sapping Bosberg at 187 kilometres. This duo is straight out of the ‘pre finishing loop’ era of the Tour of Flanders.

The Muur-Kapelmuur in Geraardsbergen epitomises Flemish cycling and any race that climbs the cobbles always gathers a good crowd. All the news from the BinckBank Tour in EUROTRASH. Pic:CorVos/PezCyclingNews.
De Muur

Before we ponder who’s going to raise their arms at the finish, let’s take a stroll down Memory Lane and look at a dozen editions of the race we see as noteworthy.

Jean Bogaerts – Two time winner

1945: and the very first edition was called the ‘Omloop van Vlaanderen’ but this upset the rival Het Nieuwsblad newspaper because it sounded too much like ‘Ronde van Vlaanderen’ which was their baby; hence it became ‘Het Volk’ with Belgian hard man, Jean Bogaerts taking the first of two wins – he’d win again in 1951.

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Albert Sercu in 1947

1947: have you ever wondered why the late, great Patrick Sercu was so fast and versatile? He chose his parents well; with dad Albert winning this edition of Het Volk.

Ernest Sterckx
Ernest Sterckx – Triple winner

1956: Ernest Sterckx becomes the first triple winner after wins in ’52 and ’53 – a real Belgian ‘Classicer’ with wins in Fleche Wallonne, Gent-Wevelgem and two wins in Paris-Brussels, which was a huge race back in those days.

Shay Elliott ahead of Anquetil

1959: Shay Elliott of Ireland makes history as the first ‘Anglo’ to win a Classic, it would be 55 years before the feat was repeated by that man, Stannard. And on the subject of Irish hard men, this was a race well suited to the skill set of ‘King Kelly’ but second to Etienne De Wilde in 1989 was as a close as he got – and there were also two third places for him.

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Roger’s first win

1969: Roger De Vlaeminck wins, ‘yes, but he won a lot of races,’ I hear you say. This was his FIRST ever professional event – class, he’d win again a decade later in 1979.

Jos Bruyere

1980: Eddy Merck’s right hand man, Jos Bruyere becomes the second rider to, ‘do the triple’ after wins in ’74 and ’75. A giant of a man, hard as nails, oblivious to atrocious weather his palmarès include two Liege-Bastogne-Liege wins and a long spell in the maillot jaune in 1978.

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De Fons on De Muur

1982: Englishman Graham Jones was class and it took a man of even greater class, Home Boy, Fons de Wolf to deny Jones the win in this edition. A good year for Anglos, Jones second, Kelly third and the late Paul Sherwen eighth. Jones could have been so much more but in true Gallic style of the time was raced to a frazzle by Peugeot.

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The late Gerrie Kneteman and Paul Sherwen in Omloop Het Volk 1983

1988: Rony Van Holen wins and it’s one of the few times in recent history when you might say; ‘who?’ of an Omloop winner. Despite sporting an extravagant mullet, Van Holen was classy; World Junior Road Race Champion in 1977 he won an enormous number of races as an amateur and whilst he perhaps never reached the heights expected as a pro he won the Pino Cerami, Brabantse Pijl, Samyn and the Jef Scherens twice.

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Johan Museeuw, Frank Vandenbroucke and three time Het Volk winner Peter van Petegem on the Molenberg

2002: and ‘De Pete’ aka Peter Van Petegem joins ‘Recordmen’ Sterckx and Bruyere on three wins after his ’97 and ’98 wins. A real Flandrian hard man with two Rondes and a Paris-Roubaix among his palmarès. Vik and I were over in Belgium for the National Championships one year and passed the great man in our car whilst he was out on a training run. We rolled down the window and gave him a shout; a nod and a grunt were returned. When we told our Belgian buddies, they reckoned we must have caught him in a chatty mood.

Juan Antonio Flecha 2010

2010: A Spaniard winning a cobbled classic? And one born in Argentina? Juan Antonio Flecha provided the fledgling Team Sky with a huge boost when he won the Omloop and got their season off to a terrific start – however, that was as good as it got for the team that year; before their remorseless ascendancy began.

Ian Stannard in the Omloop 2015

2015: we’d watched Ian Stannard beat GVA to win in 2014 but this year, when he was away in the final with THREE Quick-Steps – Super Stars Tom Boonen and Niki Terpstra plus human freight train, Stijn Vandenbergh, his chances of a repeat win looked slim. ‘Stunned silence’ doesn’t adequately describe the eerie quiet in the bar where we watched the last few kilometres, when Stannard rolled all three of them – remarkable.

The latest winner – Jasper Stuyven

2020: takes us up to date with big, strong Jasper Stuyven becoming the ninth man in history to boast the Omloop and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on his palmarès; he won the latter in 2016. As yet, no one has ever managed to win both races in the same year. And on the subject of ‘Big Jasper’ he’s one of seven – nine if you count GVA and Phil Gil’s two each – previous winners.

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A young Philippe Gilbert in 2006

And whilst Sebastian Langeveld (EF Nippo) and Sep Vanmarcke (Israel) are both, long, long shots for the win, ‘Big Sep’ may well make top 10. The other five previous winners are all ‘possible’ albeit Old Father Time is catching up with Philippe Gilbert and to see him win would be a surprise – it’s 13 years since his first win here. Team mate Tim Wellens maybe a better bet for Lotto Soudal? Denmark’s sole winner of the race, Michael Valgreen (EF Nippo) hasn’t recently replicated his 2018 form which saw him win the Omloop, the Amstel and narrowly lose out to Oliver Naesen at Plouay.

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No. 3 for Greg Van Avermaet?

Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën) is a double winner here and has been going well in the French ‘Flim Flam’ races this year but at 35 years-of-age, the stats are against him, only Paolini at 36 and Museeuw at 37 are older winners.

Styby – Worker or winner?

Zdenek Stybar, winner in 2019 is the same age and the same comments about GVA apply to him; however his Deceuninck – Quick-Step team has Yves Lampaert, Kasper Asgreen, Florian Senechal and another French guy who we’ll talk about in a moment. That leaves Jasper Stuyven, we have no indication of his 2021 form but he won’t be here to make up the numbers, that’s for sure – and he’s backed at Trek-Segafredo by strongmen Mads Pedersen and Edward Theuns. A big factor in a race like this is the weather, if it’s good then many more riders can be considered ‘possible’ given the 200K distance – 90 minutes less racing than a ‘full’ classic. But if it’s bad then men like GVA and Phil Gil come into their own – and don’t forget UAE Norseman, Alex Kristoff – remember Stage One of last year’s Tour de France?

Kristoff likes it hard

And now, ‘that other Frenchman,’ le Champion du Monde, Julian Alaphilippe, who has the team, the form – witness Provence – the cobbles and bergs hold no fears – witness Flanders until he self-destructed – BUT. . . The stats are against him, NO Frenchman has ever won here; you have to go all the way back to 1994 and Fred Moncassin’s second place to find Gallic representation on the podium – and before that the only other podium finish for La Republique was Duclos Lassale, second in ’81. But ‘Ala’ is special and his flamboyant style a joy to watch – perhaps he can, ‘be the one.’

brabantse alaphilippe
The World champion could be the first French winner of Het Nieuwsblad – Barring motos and early celebrations

AND. . .

It looks like Mathieu van der Poel will start the Omloop depending on a negative PCR or rapid test (24 hours before the start) in Belgium

Breaking news: with Alpecin-Fenix OUT of the UAE Tour due to a Covid (+) within the organisation, will we see MVDP on the start line? We can hope. . .

# Race reports and results from Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on PEZ over the weekend and more news in EUROTRASH Monday. #

het volk
There will be no fans roadside on Saturday

The post The PEZ Preview: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Who’s Hot? appeared first on PezCycling News.

Categories:PezCycling News

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The Best Cycling Routes in Denmark

02/24/2021 0:08

Cycling is seen as a way of life in Denmark. Most people own a bicycle and many regularly ride along the plethora of scenic cycle routes the country offers. Along the various routes, you will come across gorgeous fjords, pretty market towns, sandy beaches, woodland and wildlife, and so much more. If you are looking to explore the cycling routes of old Viking country, here are the best five.

The North Sea Cycle Route
Traveling from the German border in the south to the northern point of Skagen, the 348-mile North Sea Cycle Route takes you through some of Denmark’s most beautiful countryside and fishing villages. Along the route, you will ride by the Wadden Sea, which is home to seals. You will also come across towering sand dunes. Approximately 70% of the route is paved, but the other sections consist of gravel and sand tracks, so you will want to make sure you have solid tires on your bike.

The Limfjord Route
Limfjord is the largest fjord area in Denmark. It consists of beautiful islands, bays, and ports and is rich in Viking history. The 373-mile Limfjord Route takes you around the fjord on wooden ridges and flat stretches, through calming landscapes to the rough waters of the North Sea coast. Along the way, you will come across picturesque towns and villages, with some fine rustic restaurants that are ideal for taking a break from the road. But if you already start to miss cycling after an hour-or-two stop-over, you can always play a cycling slot game on your phone, like Pandamania, which is available at Casumo casino, while still giving your legs a rest.

The Gudenådalen Route
The Gudenådalen Route follows the longest river in Denmark: the Gudenåen. Starting at its source at Tinnet Krat, you will cycle to the quaint market town of Tørring. If you need a break from cycling, the town is the perfect place to hire canoes and kayaks so you can explore the river close-up. The next section of the route takes you to Hjortsvang, where you can experience 18th-century Danish life at the Hjortsvang Museum. The route along the 98-mile river ends in Åle in North Jutland.

The Ancient Road
Traveling from Nørre Snede to Bekke, along a 38-mile route, you can visit the beautiful town of Vejle in the southeast of the Jutland Peninsula at the head of Vejle Fjord and explore the countryside around the Rørbæk Sø lake, which includes woodlands, meadows, and pine plantations. You can also ride through the largest wild oak forests in the country: Tinnet Krat and Kollemorten Krat. And you will be blown away by the magnificent UNESCO Jelling Monuments that date from the Viking era of the 10th century. The Ancient Road route was forged thousands of years ago. It was not a planned route. It was a trodden path forged by walkers like pilgrims, robbers, noblemen, and kings and their armies. Today, the Ancient Road contains gravel roads to make the cycling experience smoother and more enjoyable.

The Baltic Sea Cycle Route
The 510-mile Baltic Sea Cycle Route is shaped like a figure eight and it runs through some of coastal Denmark’s most beautiful scenery, including fjords, cliffs, countryside, and beaches. In the southern section of the route, you cycle over bridges from one small island to another as you loop round to the south of Jutland. In addition to the beauty of the natural world, you will wind through pretty market towns and see historic manors and medieval castles. The Baltic Sea Cycle Route is broken down into 14 stages, so you will need to plan a couple of weeks to complete the full-length of this stunning route.

The post The Best Cycling Routes in Denmark appeared first on PezCycling News.

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