TRUE RACING RETURNS
But when? The Bay Crits? Only if you’re a bogan Aussie with the attention span of a goldfish: everyone knows circuit racing is the Twenty20 cricket of professional cycling.
Qatar? Too much sun, too few fans. Etoile de Bessèges? Only for beret-wearing morning boulangerie pedallers.
No, True Racing really returns on Saturday, with the Race Formerly Known As Het Volk.
But what is True Racing? It’s the scent of embrocation rising in the cold morning air. It’s listening to race commentary on Sporza because you love the cadence and sound (like someone speaking with a mouthful of wine gums) of Flemish. It’s this panning camera shot where you see the bleakness of the Flemish countryside set against forming groups. Or the above one of a windmill.
It’s munching burgers on bergs. It’s red-nosed Belgian fans showing their Jupilation (Webster’s Dictionary defines this as “great, incoherent excitement caused by over-consumption of Belgian beer”). It’s an armada of spindly Spanish riders throwing in the towel at the first feed zone.
It’s the infernal Rodania jingle that plays from a passing pre-race caravan vehicle, as certain to lodge itself in your brain forever more as Tom Boonen is to test his legs on the Taaienberg this Saturday. It is a hundred-strong crowd by a leafless tree, cheering for an unknown back marker. It’s Heinrich Haussler riding through a blizzard without any gloves. It’s a Dirk Hofman Motorhomes sign on the last berg. It’s the word aankomst. It’s Lion of Flanders flags flapping in the wind. True Racing is
Omloop Het Volk Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
PS. True Racing is not a moody monochrome photograph of a winding mountain road circa 2011, Leopard-Trek. Nice try though.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Probably in Oman.” Chris Froome’s super-dry response when asked by a journalist where he sees next year’s Tour of Oman.
STAT’S THE WAY, UH HUH UH HUH, WE LIKE IT
35 – Number of days separating Het Nieuwsblad and the Tour of Flanders.
0 – Number of times someone has won Het Nieuwsblad and the Tour of Flanders in the same year [we’re surprised too – Ed.]
0 – Number of British winners of Het Nieuwsblad. Sixty-ninth time lucky, Ian Stannard?
Team Sky tyro Ian Boswell gets used to French hospitality. "To run a French hotel all you must learn is "c'est ne pas possible."
2012: Tom Boonen shrugs Lars Boom into the ditch with the insouciance of a Parisian waiter yawning in bed. At the finish, Sep Vanmarcke has the measure of him. Here.
Potty helmets, turquoise Tulip jerseys and Edwig Van Hooydonck grinning like the face of Mad Magazine. Must be the 1991 Het Volk.
198 starters, 26 finishers, the wettest race in recent memory. Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2010 in two and a half minutes.
How a shop that began in a Parsons Greens basement came to provide cycle fits for the stars of Trek Factory Racing. Making the Kit Fit.
Our resident Danish duo Morten and Jakob join one-man story factory Brian Holm for a road trip round his Belgian haunts. Crossbows, tigers and fast cars are just the tip of the iceberg. The Quick and The Dead: Part One and Part Two.
February 19: Just Deserts?
Got some more definitions of True Racing? Are you a fuming French hotelier looking to defend the industry's reputation? Any comments, opinions and other stuff or nonsense, e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org