The Spring Classics
2003: Probably the two most popular Belgians of recent times, Peter Van Petegem, the Flandrian, and Frank Vandenbroucke (front), are the “angels” of the Ronde’s 87th edition. Here, on the last pitch of the Kappel-Muur, thousands of their faithful fans urge them on to the summit; Van Petegem will beat Vandenbroucke at the finish for his second win.
1967: On the “old” Mur de Grammont, a young Eddy Merckx (right) is still learning the ropes, alongside another local prodigy, Willy Planckaert (left). Merckx crashed in his debut Ronde the previous year, but this time he stays upright and takes 3rd place behind fast Italian Dino Zandegu and fellow Belgian Noël Foré.
1924: With spare tires looped over his shoulders and a smile on his face, future master of the six-day track racing circuit Gérard Debaets celebrates his first Flanders win. He will repeat in 1927 as the first double champion.
1951: Until 1948 only one foreigner had won here, the Swiss Heiri Suter in 1923. But then, three years in a row, a fearsome Italian tamed the elements, the cobblestones, and even Briek Schotte, “the Last of the Flandrians.” With this third victory, Fiorenzo Magni is hailed as “the Lion of Flanders.”
Editor’s note: This excerpt from “The Spring Classics” is republished with permission of VeloPress. “The Spring Classics: Cycling’s Greatest One-Day Races” delves deeply into the glorious, beautiful history of cycling’s monuments. The book is available now in bookstores, bike shops, and online. See more at velopress.com including the list of races, more photos, and another excerpt. Part 2 will be published Friday.
Each classic has its own character, but the Ronde van Vlaanderen is utterly unique. For the Belgians’ own Tour de France, the Koppenberg and Mur de Grammont are the Mont Ventoux and L’Alpe d’Huez of Flanders. It’s a race with an epic tale condensed into a single day.
The Diabolical Ronde
A sharp rain is falling like
To read the whole story, visit here: http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/03/news/book-excerpt-the-tour-of-flanders-from-the-spring-classics-part-1_166118