It’s April, which means the toughest one day races of the season are nearly upon us. The 98th Tour of Flanders (Dutch: Ronde van Vlaanderen) is up first this Sunday 6th of April followed by the 2014 Paris-Roubaix on Sunday 13th April.
The Milan-San Remo two weeks ago may be the longest of the monuments but the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are surely the toughest. De Ronde has been won by Belgians 68 times out of the 97 editions, with Italy next best nation on 10 wins. Belgians love their cycling and this race in particular, holds a special place in their hearts. Come rain, snow or sunshine the fans will be on the roadside to cheer on the riders. It’s a race like no other.
The 2014 Tour of Flanders covers a distance of 259km including 17 climbs (hellingen) and half of these climbs are also cobbled. The finish line is in the same place as last year but the legendary Koppenberg climb is now only 45km from the finish with another 5 climbs before the finish including the decisive Oude Kwaremont at 243km, just 16km from the finish.
2014 Ronde van Vlaanderen 259km
1. Oude Kwaremont (cobbled) 109km
2. Kortekeer (asphalt) 119km
3. Eikenberg (cobbled) 127km
4. Wolvenberg (asphalt) 130km
5. Molenberg (cobbled)142km
6. Leberg (asphalt) 163km
7. Valkenberg (asphalt) 171km
8. Kaperij (asphalt) 181km
9. Kanarieberg (asphalt) 189km
10. Oude Kwaremont (cobbled) 205km
11. Paterberg (cobbled) 208km
12. Koppenberg (cobbled) 215km
13. Steenbeekdries (cobbled) 220km
14. Taaienberg (cobbled) 222km
15. Kruisberg (Oudestraat) (cobbled) 233km
16. Oude Kwaremont (cobbled) 243km
17. Paterberg (cobbled) 246km
1. Ruiterstraat 130km
2. Kerkgate 133km
3. Holloweg 136km
4. Paddestraat 147km
5. Haaghoek 160km
6. Mariaborrestraat 219km
History says this is one for the Belgians, there has been a Belgian winner 68 times, the first winner in 1913 Paul Deman was Belgian. Of the 3 time winners of the race 4 out of the 5 are Belgian. Fabian Cancellara can join those illustrious 3 times winners if he wins this Sunday.
Tour of Flanders: 2013 top 10
1. Fabian Cancellara (Sui) RadioShack 6-05-58
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale at 1-26
3. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 1-26
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha at 1-38
5. Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ at 1-40
6. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling at 1-40
7. Greg Van Avermat (Bel) BMC at 1-40
8. Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Euskaltel Euskadi at 1-40
9. John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos Shimano at 1-40
10. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica GreenEdge at 1-40
Tour of Flanders: Winners of the past ten years
2013 Fabian Cancellara (Sui) RadioShack-Leopard
2012 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
2011 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank
2010 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank
2009 Stijn Devolder (Bel) QuickStep
2008 Stijn Devolder (Bel) QuickStep
2007 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre
2006 Tom Boonen (Bel) QuickStep
2005 Tom Boonen (Bel) QuickStep
2004 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile
Highlights of the 2013 Tour of Flanders
The overwhelming favourite has to be Fabian Cancellara (Trek), his form has been building all season and he looked super strong at the E3 Harelbeke. This is a race that Cancellara targets every year and he has won here twice before, he surely will want one more victory in his palmares to join the three time winners.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won the E3 Harelbeke and placed third in last weekend’s Gent-Wevelgem. It’s only a matter of time before the 24 year old adds a monument victory and with the form he’s in now this could be his race come Sunday evening.
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) is one of only five riders to have won the Tour of Flanders three times, if Tomeke won the race again this year the whole of Belgium would party for a week. Boonen has had some good stage wins in Qatar and won the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne for a record forth time.
Of the other favourites you have to include these riders with a chance of winning, Sep Vanmarcke, Stijn Devolder, Sylvan Chavanel, John Degenkolb, Greg Van Avermaet, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Geraint Thomas and Filippo Pozzato. Of those riders John Degenkolb is one that certainly could take the race to the big three. The Bike Lane picked him as a favourite for Milan-San Remo and he was cruelly robbed by a puncture in the final kilometres of the race, Degenkolb went out and won last weekends Gent-Wevelgem beating Sagan and Boonen.
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