The Tour of Flanders: the greatest of the classics, always reserve something spectacular, and even more in 2010 with the incredible victory of Cancellara. A special atmosphere awaits us during this fantastic day throughout Flanders that highlights the bike and its outstanding champions.
The Tour of Flanders is the grail for all bikers and especially for Belgians. It is a whole nation that reserves its weekend to attend the biggest cycling event and maybe sport event that Belgium hosts. People from Flanders will be out today!
The tour of Flanders, Geoffroy Lequatre knows it well. He has participated several times with French teams. Nevertheless, in 201, it is the first big race and great classic in the Radioshack team of Lance Armstrong. Following a good Milan San Remo where he finished 14th, he continued his classic races with the Tour of Flanders.
Lance Armstrong absent from Milan San Remo, will be the leader of the RadioShack team on the amazing roads of the tour of Flanders. The idea of receiving the seven-time winner of the Tour de France was quite something! Armstrong on a race, it was like Mickael Jackson in concert!
The Geoffroy Lequatre’s tour of Flanders, so special!
I am excited by the opportunity to ride this great classic alongside Lance to discover this particular pressure with a team motivated to fight and dedicated to this mythical leader of the time.
One day before the race
We stayed at the same hotel during all the classics and semi-classics: the Radioshack HQ, a few miles away from Bruges. On the eve of the race and before dinner, it is the big speech for all the teams. The briefing is clear, with Markel Iriizar, we will be the two teammates of Lance Armstrong during the first part of the race.
We will be at his side, during the early race to protect it from the edges, race hazards so that he can be in good conditions at the end of this 250km classic. “Stay close”!
The briefing is quite short because everyone knows what he has to do! The responsibility of everyone is the greatest of the qualities of a great team, no need to be behind and control the actions! The confidence in every runner is a must!
In the early morning, it is always a special atmosphere. Going by bus to Bruges on this beautiful place and this particular communion that the spectators make for us. Bruges is a beautiful city nicknamed the Venice of the North, it is more than a thousand spectators who are waiting for us on the Main Market Square who applaud and attend the presentation of the runners before the departure of this historic classic.
It is a whole people, a national fervour that you can feel from the start of Bruges.
The day starts early, the departure is at 9:30 to cover almost all roads in Flanders, different mountains, different paved areas and difficulties offered by the Tour of Flanders, for a show guaranteed! Beers will be generously served in all the villages crossed!
My first tour of Flanders under the RadioShack colours, I am closed to Armstrong during this first part of the race with my teammate Markel! The race goes as usual, a breakaway and then a pack that rides to keep the morning break not so far with a reasonable distance.
We must be careful in the first part of the race with the curbs, stop pee, refuelling, and constant back and forth to bring back the racing clothes to the car because the weather is a bit cold and gloomy in this start of the race.
The race is accelerating progressively and I am on a good day with very good sensations. We arrive in the mountains, the pack gets upset, everyone wants to be in front! The famous Vieux Quaremont arrives at the179km. In 2010 we do not make a loop after the old Quaremont and we directly continued with Paterberg and then the famous Koppenberg !
The Old Quaremont! A crowd and a strategic place. I feel good and still alongside my leader Lance Armstrong, near the foot of the Quaremont. I looked into my pockets, I start to be a little “empty” and I need to refuel. Then Lance came in my wheel, asks me a gel! My last one…! The refuel is after the Koppenberg, and I still have around 20km with 3 mountains to climb! Full gas … Ok, I gave him my gel telling myself that I will refuel later!
Everything is going well, the mountains follow each other, we are in the top 20 at the top of the Quaremont, the Paterberg is coming quickly, it’s a paved ramp more than 17%, we are in good position. The teams now activate their strategies, still around 80km before the arrival! The 2010 team of RadioShack is homogeneous! We arrive at a first fateful milestone which is the koppenberg, one of the most difficult mountains. If you are a little behind, you won’t have any chance to be at the top! You must be at the front line to avoid falls.
The fall on the tour of Flanders: a typical issue
This is what will happen, a fall on our right will prevent from following the first 20 riders, hopefully we did not fall (because it almost impossible to ride again if you put your foot on the ground) but we are embarrassed, on the top of koppenberg there are 50 m that separate us from a group of 5, which is separated from 50m of a group of 10 which is separated from 50m of the first group!
C’est à ce moment que nous reprenons une grande route vent de face avant d‘arriver au Ravito! je bouche le trou sur le groupe de tète au prix de sentir qu’il ne me reste plus beaucoup de cartouches avant d’exploser! Nous rentrons sur le groupe de tète à la faveur d’un ralentissement durant le ravito !
I turn around Lance was in my wheel and he told me “HOP HOP” it is necessary to catch them up, right now! The longest 50m that exists I started to be tired and “empty”. Let’s go full gas ….. I caught up the group before us, and “do not stop” Lance told me, it is necessary to catch the group in front up.
It is at this point that we took a big road headwind before arriving at the refuel! I caught up on the head group at the price of feeling that I do not have much energy left before “blowing out”! We got back to the head group where everyone slowdown during the refuel!
I took 2 feedbags! I’m exhausted! No time to eat, I gave the bag to Lance, try to take something in mine, but I feel that my end is coming soon, I’m on full gas since KM 0, there are still 50km to go!
Mount Eikenberg will decide!
As it should be on this kind of classics, you must cut to the shortest! In order to return! Like you can. I’ve always been told in my younger years, “If you are dropped from a group, never drop alone, follow a Belgian he will bring you back to the shortest!”
The races in Belgium are laps, half laps, crossings of routes in an area concentrated around the mountains that make the decision! You are never far from the start or the finish but still! Everything is alike!
So I go back to the shortest with a group to join Meerbeke, the traditional arrival of the Tour of Flanders 2010, where Cancellara aka the motorbike (on this race) won!
The end of a big day around a leader, Lance Armstrong. He finished 27th. Everyone gets on the bus and is congratulated for the work they have done! It was a team day for me. I am already motivated for the next deadline of the circuit of Sarthe which must take place 2 days later and this, for 4 days to continue with Paris Roubaix the following Sunday!
Lance must come to the circuit of La Sarthe to refine his preparation! He will get sick and can not come on this famous French race
Who is your favourite for the 2019 tour of Flanders?
Stay tuned our next blog article is coming with “Geoffroy Lequatre” and his experiences of PARIS ROUBAIX.