Apr 27, 2008

Fancy footwork at Le Tour

These photos express a simpler time from the Tour. Utterly charming, it depicts the essence of ... France.
Whether from fuzzy slippers to fancy heels, it seems that Frenchwomen have a certain style when handing out water to their cycling heroes. I believe that it's the only sport in the world where the fan's can participate in.
I love these photos!

The 1971 Tour de France:

From fuzzy slippers...
(The Fabulous World of Cycling)

... to fancy heels. Roger De Vlaeminck gets a bottle from an admiring fan. The Gypsy never finished any of his Tours. Even with a little bubbly, he would eventually abandon with a broken wrist!
(Photo: Offside)

Apr 26, 2008

Infatuation with La Doyenne

La Doyenne is 'The Grand Lady' and graces her presence as the oldest race.
Liege-Bastogne-Liege dates way back to 1892 and tomorrow's big 'monument' marks the 94th edition. Sure it's 261 kilometers and it goes over 13 small, but, prominent climbs with gradients from 5 to 12%. With the addition of the new steep 'falcon's rock' climb, with 20 kilometers remaining, will provide added drama. The rider that wins has his place in history. And it is so for Eddy Merckx, his immortality is secure with the record 5 wins.

The race is up for grabs as most of the favorites from last Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne are present. Damiano Cunego(lampre) 'the little prince' is ready to go. His Italian compatriot, Riccardo Riccò(Saunier) is back and should be strong coming off from flu. Fränk Schleck(CSC) is hungry for a win and promises a good ride. However, I'm liking the Aussie Cadel Evans(Silence-Lotto ) chances, especially coming off from his great 2nd place at Fleche Wallonne. And don't forget the Canadian spark plugs; Michael Barry(High Road) and Ryder Hesjedal(Slipstream) will be there to help their leaders. Hesjedal was a very good 39th at Fleche and he looks to do well with La Doyenne.

You can't talk about tomorrow's race without mentioning some of her 'men' from the past. The infatuation with 'the grand dame' deserves mention, here are some of them...

1966. Eventually winner, Jacques Anquetil 'mastering' La Doyenne.

1979. The 'crush' is on.
(right to left): Hinault, Pollentier, Shepers, Van Impe & Baronchelli on one of the picturesque climbs. The outcome; La Doyenne will pick Didi Thurau.

The following year, 1980.
One who hated the classics, but loved to win her heart.
Hinault takes off alone in the bone chilling cold to score an impressive victory. LBL's icy grip was so severe that it took him 3 weeks to regain movement in his index and middle finger of his right hand. The Badger was frozen and couldn't get into his bath at the hotel until the water was almost cold!
She left her mark on him.

Photos: (above & middle), The Fabulous World of Cycling.

Apr 23, 2008

A Devil of a good time!

On top of the world's largest bike!

Running at the Giro ...

... to a devilish welcome at the Tour!

A Tour de France prelude...

"They say the devil's water
It ain't so sweet
You don't have to drink right now
But you can dip your feet
Every once in a little while"

The Killers.

Didi Senft, aka the Devil of the Tour de France(since 1993),  is one of cycling's most famous characters. He's a 56 year old, German artist that created the world's largest bicycle and listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. A crowd favorite, the wacky Didi can be seen at major races 'poking' his trident at the unsuspecting riders. He really doesn't touch any of them, but his presence at the race cheers up riders and fans alike. 
For a man dressed up as the devil with red leotards running and screaming resulting in zany shenanigans?

I'm going to the Tour!

Apr 22, 2008

The wall of pain awaits.

The riders' pain threshold will reach dizzying heights on the wall of pain. www.velo-club.net

Tomorrow marks the midweek Belgium classic, the 72nd Flèche Walonne. The true test is the 3 climbs up the Mur de Huy(Wall of Huy or pain) that will challenge the most resolute climber. 

Riders will encounter 10 côtes(hills) along with the particular leg ripping Mur de Huy as the most feared. The Huy is a lung burner as riders heave over sections as steep as 15% with the final ascent being the race ending climb. You can be sure that the race will be decided on this dreaded hill. Three have won this great race a record 3 times;  Marcel Kint, The Cannibal, and Moreno Argentin.  Tough enough to ride it but hard as nails to win as the victor will be a climber/classic specialist. 

Fränk Schleck(CSC) has the credentials to win. Last year he came in seventh. With victory at the 2007 Giro dell'Emilia and a stage win in the 2007 Tour de Suisse. He maybe remembered for his huge mountain victory on the Gap - L'Alpe d'Huez, stage 15 - 2006 Tour de France. Another rider I have 'high' hopes for is Aussie Cadel Evans(Silence-Lotto). He can do it all, as proven in his brilliant 2nd place at the 2007  Tour. I'm glad that Jonathan Vaughter of Slipstream-Chipotle has confidence in adding young Canadian Ryder Hesjedal to the team. A former mountain biking world champion, Hesjedal knows a thing or two about climbing. 

But he'll suffer, like everyone else,  at the wall of Huy!

Apr 20, 2008

It's in the bottle.

I'm not paid by Sigg to say this...

I've just come back from purchasing a Sigg Aluminum water bottle. And, cautiously embraced the turning of the plastic tide. My ole 'faithful' plastic bottle is destined for the shelf where it will lie there forever. As we are painfully made aware by the powers that be, the harmful BPA's (Bisphenol A) in plastics are an harbinger to causing the infamous; 'C'. Remember the Nalgene? Like everyone else, I have used plastic containers for many years. And in some aspect, continue to do so. Although, I'm trying to curtail the use of it. I find it difficult. But, this maybe the step in the right direction.

The Sigg(Swiss made) is made from aluminum, a possible link to Alzheimers, but lined with a non-toxic water based epoxy. Think of all the aluminum soda cans out there and are they lined? Who knows?

I had another choice in the Klean Kanteen(Chinese made) water bottle made from stainless steel. There are two camps out there; stainless vs aluminum and there's a huge amount of research online. With the stainless steel bottle, without a liner, may cause water to taste 'metal like' due to bacteria buildup. A factor if you are using it regularly.

The Sigg aluminum bottle, with a liner, is reportedly taste neutral. Not for the stainless, unless you enjoy a metallic taste. And though and behold, with the Sigg bottle, alcohol can be stored but not recommended due to the obvious, fermentation = pressure danger. And of course, I don't sanction drinking alcohol with cycling!

I made a weighty decision based on the Sigg and the advantages of the liner. It basically looks like a proper cycling water bottle and that's fine by me.

My only question ... will the plastic water bottles ever be removed from pro cycling?

Apr 19, 2008

Dutch Daze with an Amstel

Tomorrow's Amstel Gold Race is both a great race and festival. This Dutch race, now in it's 43rd year of drinking and racing, is the lead up to the 'Ardennes week.' The other two are Flèche Wallone & Liège-Bastogne-Liège, following later this week.
Fans will be drinking well before the start of the race with some opting to watch the end at an roadside pub. A carnival atmosphere, for sure.
However, the riders will experience a more serious side to this race. This semi-classic will be challenging, over a twisty hilly course of 257 kilometers. Starting in Maastricht and snaking along the narrow farm roads over the Cauberg climb(twice) and ending outside of Valkenberg. For the riders will have to wait until after the race to enjoy an Amstel.


Who said that Holland was flat as a pannekoek? www.tomengonnie.nl

Beers and Bikes. The fine Dutch cycling tradition! www.velo-news.com

Apr 18, 2008

I'll have a Bont Light.

I just saw Hans yesterday with his Bont's. He stopped me on the street to show me his nice cycling shoes.
Wow, are they light, moccasin like, and beautifully made. Hans finally received his shoes, in the correct size, from cycling tv's giveaway promotion. These beauty's are black and incredibly light. I thought of my Crocs sandals as I held them in my hands. So light. He just got the cleats positioned and about to step into 'Rino Shoes' to have rubber ends put on the back heel's. Because there's no way without them. Protection is non-existent and walking on them ... forget it.
Along with his Colnago, he'll soon be flying.

Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind having a Bont Light!


Apr 17, 2008

MKS vs Campagnolo?

An MKS pedal dust cap, with logo, on my Campy pedal. Sacrilege?

I've replaced my lost Campy pedal dust cap(sigh, is it really gone?), with an MKS one. I went to the 'other side' of bike parts. It's an huge world where back room dealings constantly go on. Where people in darken alleys meet and go to barter for their replacement parts...

OK, kidding aside, when I dropped into 'Dream Cycles', they sold me an replacement for my lost left Nouvo Record Pedal dust cap, under the MKS brand. I've heard of the make before and I thought why would I put this inferior piece on my urber Campy pedal? Easy answer: it was available, cheap, and it fit! It probably would be hard to track down a Campy one and costly. So, I'm approaching it from the pragmatic side, if it works - keep it. I read on (www.Velo-Orange.com), "that folks(very likely in denial) would file down the MKS logo and re-polish them to make replacements parts for hard to find Campy caps." I wouldn't have the time or patience. So, I'm perfectly content riding on Campy with protection from MKS. Surprisingly, I discovered that the MKS dust caps are made of aluminum to the Campy's ... plastic.

Someone should tell MKS that they're onto something good. Unless they already ... know!

Apr 15, 2008

An Amstel to this veteran!

Could this be the year for Dutchman, Maarten Den Bakker? Ok, he's just turned 39, a veteran of the peloton in his 18th season and riding for the low key Dutch team, Skil-Shimano.

He plans to retire at the end of this season and I bet Den Bakker would love to win one last big race. Like this Sunday's Amstel Gold Race. Ten years ago, at the 1998 Amstel Gold Race in his native Holland he almost ... did win! After some 6 hours of riding, Swiss Rolf Järmann and Den Bakker sprinted for the finish line. With Järmann just eclipsing Den Bakker at the line!

It maybe wishful thinking, but a man can dream, right? Den Bakker says, "My best years are gone. I don't have any problem with training because I like to train. Simply, I still love cycling. I use my experience to get some results and to help out the younger guys." Maybe he had his chance ten years ago, but with that positive attitude and thinking I can envision him doing something magical at Sunday's Amstel Gold Race.

Den Bakker's in the position of guiding his younger teammates into breaks or attacks. And, he has a group of young hopefuls at the ready; Clement Lhotellerie(Fra), Fumiyuki Beppu(Jpn) and Tom Veelers(Ned).

"I recently celebrated my birthday with a small beer in the hotel bar," he said at the Tour of Qatar in January.

I bet it was an Amstel Gold!

Den Bakker(left) just missing out on an 1998 Amstel 'Gold' from Rolf Järmann! www.amstelgoldrace.nl

(top): The veteran all mic'd up and ready for this Sunday's Amstel.

Apr 13, 2008

The revelation from Hell.

Congrats to Tom Boonen as he enters the pantheon of greatness with victory in Paris-Roubaix! But, the revelation of this great race goes to 24 year old Dutchman, Martijn Masskant.

Slipstream-Chipotle's boss, Jonathan Vaughter predicted before the race, that he was going to have a 'good ride today." This is his first attempt in Hell and he rode well to come in an astounding fourth, 3:39 behind Torpedo Tom.

"Sleepy Martijn" is what his Slipstream teammate's call him because he likes to sleep in. He pulled a surprise fourth place finish while supporting his leader, Magnus Backstedt. The emerging Slipstream team came unhinged after Backstedt had mechanical troubles in the Arenberg Forest and eventually DNF.

Masskant moved on through, in the last few kilometer's, to chase down Devolder and O'Grady for his fantastic result. You may remember that earlier on this season he enjoyed strong finishes in; Tour of Flanders(12th) & Monte Paschi Eroica(4th).

Look out for more from him as the season continues.

(photo): After his astounding fourth place finish. 'Sleepy Martijn' awakens to the reporter's questions.

Boonen Torpedoes his 2nd!

After the race, Cancellara & the Torpedo. www.velomagazine.fr

Torpedo Tom Boonen wins his 2nd Paris-Roubaix!
2nd. Fabian Cancellara
3rd. Fabio Ballan

Apr 12, 2008

Mars Bars Attack!

I read an interesting article concerning what Team High Road will be consuming at the feed zone during tomorrow's Paris-Roubaix...
Cakes, power bars, gels, sport drinks, water, chocolate and Mars Bars! Brilliant! Why not? George Hincapie has a good enough chance for the win, he's come in so close the previous year's. Sugar is sweet and so could his ride, Sunday.
Another rider that has a good chance is, Juan Antonio Flecha. I believe he's one of those gifted riders, through trial and error and over the cobbles, has transformed himself into a potential overall winner. These two veterans of Hell are due. And a good thing, the weather forecast tomorrow is for wet and nasty. For these two, that's great news. And, look for Norwegian, Thor Husvold to be third.

So, I'll go with my gut feeling that Flecha will win it with Hincapie ... very close by!

(above photo): Flecha at last year's Hell when he came in second. His former pain can be his tomorrow's gain!

Apr 11, 2008

Not a surprise that Tonio was the fastest over the cobbles!

Champion form of the great Italian pursuit racer, Antonio 'Tonio' Bevilacqua(Benotto-Ursus) on his way to victory at the 1951 Paris-Roubaix. His track palmares were many but, during this particularly dry edition of Hell he just put it in his 50x14 gear and hammer all the way to the finish. He was going over 40 kilometers an hour over the dry cobbles, ripe conditions for a world champion pursuit specialist. Although they finished second & third respectively, contender's Louison Bobet and Rik Van Steenbergen never had a chance. Bobet and Van Steenbergen were good track racers in their own right, but, Tonio was the gifted of the trio. He won many medal's on the track and, in the same year, had the distinction of being World & Italian Pursuit Champion.
An exercise in power ... the Italian pursuit specialist at his best!

(photo): www.wooljersey.com

Apr 10, 2008

As close as it gets to Paris-Roubiax!

My love for Paris-Roubaix holds no bounds, a true specialist's race. However, this morning's incident with my bike eating the wet pavement revealed a 'close' similarity to the great race.
Ok, I've ridden this road many times, and as I yield and look both ways to turn, I quickly found myself flat on the road. Looking back on it, I may have leaned to much and misjudged the slickness of the road. While I was down and close to mother earth, and muttering how embarrass I was, the first thing I saw was my poor coffee mug bleeding profusely of the precious liquid.
I quickly got up accessed the damage and determined that I lost my dust cap to my Campagnolo pedal, torn the handlebar tape, and a bruise under my knee. My left hand palm side took impact and without my leather gloves may have been worse. I have a left shoulder pain and a nice looking scrape under my left knee. I'm now icing my palm hand and taking it easy for a few days off my Marinoni.

Sure, this Sunday's Queen of the Classics will have it's fair share of monumental crashes and output of pain ... but I feel somewhat closer.

Apr 9, 2008

Raise a little Hell.

Eddy Merckx's third and final treble in the 1973 'Hell of the North' was no easy plight. He discovered that this race was harder than his two previous victories. He fell when a press motorcycle got entangle with his bike. And, riding for the Italian Molteni team, he sped away from De Vlaeminck with 47 kilometers left. The Cannibal maintained his dominance and after a few close calls he crossed the line to win by 2 minutes, 20 seconds. His victims were Walter Godefroot and Roger Rosiers some 2 minutes and 20 seconds behind!

(left): So, this is what the view looks like in second. (Presse Sports)

Fausto Coppi was a pioneer at introducing new equipment during his races. The Campionissimo tried a new Campagnolo derailleur without jockey wheels and pushing a huge gear of 52 X 15 broke away to win alone in the 1950 Hell of the North. Frenchman, Maurice Diot trailed in next by 2 minutes and 40 seconds.
Diot was so estactic to finish behind the Campionissimo that he remarked, "I'm thrilled to have won!"

(above): After the finish. Diot & the Campionissimo enjoying their 'wins.' (Presse Sports)

Sean Kelly knew how to win, he was so strong that during the eighties racked up many classic wins. Nineteen eighty-four was no different as he entered the Hell of the North as the favorite. King Kong Kelly took control of the race along with the Belgian, Rudy Rogiers. As they entered the velodrome Kelly decided Rogiers fate by easily sprinting past him. His first Paris-Roubaix. The second would come in 1986.
And when the tireless Kelly was asked how he handled fatigue? He said, "It's a mind game. You only get tired when you're holed up in some hotel room and have time to think about it."

Slip sliding in the muck. Kelly at home in the muddy confines of Roubaix, 1984. His first win awaits him! (Photosport

Apr 8, 2008

The indispensable Kemmelberg!

Tomorrow is the Ghent-Wevelgem race. And, as I discovered, the Kemmelberg will be the 'star' of the race.

The 209 km semi-classic race, first held in 1934, has the importance of being nestled between the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix. The uniqueness being; a classic race held on a weekday and so flat that it's tailored made for the hardcore sprinters. Of course, just taking part is not enough as the riders must contend with the dreaded Kemmelberg cobbled climb, not once but twice!

Difficult to climb, a 1:5 gradient, extremely hard going on the descent. Riders panic, bones are broken, skin is ripped and riders' safety are compromised. Yes, crashes that can send fans scurrying for cover and leaving one masked in fright as riders fall terribly on the descent. I saw the painful skin shredding video of Jimmy Casper's face plant of last year's race and I did cover my mouth in shock!

With heavy accidents occurring, growing concern of whether to keep the Kemmelberg in the race surfaced. In the 2007 Three Days of De Panne, the climb was left out after a strike was staged by the riders.

For tomorow's climb, to lessen the bunching effect of riders, organisers added 2.5 km of cobbles before the Kemmel. And, at the top, instead of the severity of cobbles, an asphalt track of road is added.

I'll just stick to the Kemmelberg and the old expression, "with no pain, there's no gain" and pick tough guys, Thor Hushovd to battle Juan Antonio Flecha for the honors!

Apr 7, 2008

The Gavia Epic; Coppino loses more than the pink.

After what seem like years of struggling on Italian teams, Franco Chioccioli got his break and was picked to the famed Del Tongo-Colnago team. He looked like the great Fausto Coppi, and was nicknamed, 'Coppino', because of his slim build, lanky legs and beaky nose.

At the start of stage 13, Chioccioli donned the leader's Pink Jersey in the 1988 Giro d'Italia after taking it from Massimo Podenzana(Atala-Ofmega). During what might be the worse day in cycling, the ultra harsh weather added that 'extra' to the turmoil of stage 14. 

"It was one of my worst days of my life, it'll go down in history as one of the worst stages in cycling. I'm still convinceed somebody didn't want me to win and that's why we were sent over the Gavia. It was my first season at Del Tongo. Giupponi was the favorite and Saronni cracked early on. We knew that the Gavia was covered in snow, but they sent us over it anyway," Chioccioli says. 

"At about 5 kms from the summit I was already freezing, and Hampsten and Bruekink dropped me and Giovanetti. All I had to keep me warm was the pink jersey. I didn't have a cape or leg-warmers because my team car had stopped to wait for Giupponi. I had the maglia rosa but, incredibly, they'd left me on my own and had gone to help him. At the summit, my team car was nowhere to be seen.

"When I crossed the finish in Bormio my fingers were black because there was no blood circulating. I lost 4 minutes in 20 kms of descending and so lost the Giro to Hampsten." Only an handful of riders finished that infamous stage. Many climbed into their team cars. "Eighty per cent of the riders got into team cars and that's why a lot of the riders didn't lose a lot of time. Giupponi actually finished in the same time as me. He'd been dropped but somehow managed to get back on. The amazing thing was that his jersey was dry," he says. 

Chioccioli blames his team for abandoning him on the Gavia. He would go on to finish the Giro, 5th overall, 13 minutes 20 seconds behind winner Andy Hampsten. "One minute I had the pink jersey and then the next minute I'd lost everything and discovered that my team perhaps never even wanted me to win. I finished the Giro without hardly pedaling because my morale had been shattered," lamented Chioccioli. 

A cruel twist of fate?

Three years later, Franco Chioccioli ('Coppino' - 'little Coppi') did get his sweet revenge by convincingly winning the 1991 Giro!

(left): Dog-tired! Coppino at the finish in Bormio with the Maglia rosa to keep him warm. He loses it after the days exploit's. A victim of team deception or the insane weather? 

(right): With no team car in sight, Coppino battles in the snow in futile defense of his coveted Maglia rosa. With only a handful of riders, he'll go on to heroically finish this grueling stage in 7th!

Apr 6, 2008

The Road to Hell ... Damn! Short by a cm!

With a week to go, here's another story from Hell.
Steve Bauer rode a perfectly tactical race, keeping 2 riders at bay in the last few kilometers of the 1990 Paris-Roubaix.
A Canadian against two Belgians slugging it out in the Queen of the Classics?
You bet!

The trio looked good consisting of; a very strong Bauer(7-Eleven), Eddy Planckert(Panasonic) and Edwig van Hooydonck(Buckler). A rider of 'classic' proportions, Bauer had the build necessary to compete over the dreaded cobbles. He wasn't nicknamed, "Gros cul"(big butt), for nothing. And, along with his keen preparation, Bauer was a rider to be reckoned with over the cobbles. He had very good results, in 1988(8th) and in 1989(4th).

"I knew this was a bike race I had to excel at. I was built perfectly for it. You had to be supple, relaxed, upper body floating, hands totally loose on the bars, all the power coming from the waist down," Bauer said.

With about 30 km’s left, Bauer was in the chase group containing a very fit Laurent Fignon. They were chasing Planckert’s lead group when Bauer bolted off and attacked solo. “ I gave everything I had in the attack, leaving everyone except Eddy P glued to my wheel and Van Hooydonck struggling to stay with us,” added Bauer.

The Canadian felt good and periodically attacked Planckert, but he couldn’t shake him off. As the trio entered into the Velodrome, 3 other riders caught them. They were Wampers(the 1989 winner, Panasonic), Gayant(Toshiba), and Duclos-Lasalle(Z).
Suddenly, Bauer blew past the other’s with only Planckert beside him. As they sprinted for the line, Bauer threw his bike… “After crossing the line Bauer and I looked at each other. Neither of us knew who had won,” said the astonish Planckert. Officials looked at giving both riders the win but they knew a draw wouldn’t be popular. In the end, they gave it to Planckert by a cm! This is the closest finish in Paris-Roubiax history.

For Steve Bauer, he came ever so close to winning a Monument. Sadly, he would never have another chance.

(photo): Bauer(middle), Planckert(left) just about to make history. I screamed when Bauer lost!

Apr 5, 2008

Springfever for Ryder and the Canadiens!

Ok, what does cycling have to do with Hockey? Well, nothing directly, but there's one connection.
I heard that tomorrow's big classic, Tour of Flanders, might be a messy one. Weather wise it may have what every classic fan would want; rain, cold and snow! Although, I won't be able to see it live, there's the bright spot of one addition.
Canada's Ryder Hesjedal(Slipstream-Chipotle), is an late addition to replace the injured American Steve Cozza. Hesjedal has shown great promise with strong finishes in this year's early season races; GP Marseillaise(3rd), Eroica(10th), and Tirreno-Adriatico(8th). The understated Canadien will probably be placed in support to help Maggy Bäckstedt challenge for the win. I'm glad he'll be thrown into this great race and he should be home on the fearsome cobbles and the troublesome weather. As a former mountain bike world champion, I believe he'll relish in the 17 climbs & 264 km Flemish classic.
This begs the question and I'll cross my fingers when I ask this... Can this be the big chance of victory for the Slipstream Team? The Canadien is headed into one of the biggest classic races of the season and anything can happen. And after a strong season, the Montréal Canadiens are headed into the playoffs and optimistically, further.

With the promise of Ryder Hesjedal and the Canadiens going towards greater feats, there's something wonderful about cycling and hockey ... in the Spring!

(right): 'Mud-man.' With Hesjedal's experience as former mountain bike world champ, don't be surprise if he succeeds in the muck of the Flemish mud! www.e-mtb.com

(top): The 'other promising Canadiens.'

Apr 2, 2008

The Lion of Flanders callin'

This Sunday's Tour of Flanders is the eagerly awaited 2nd 'monument' of the classics. The crazed Belgian fans are hoping for one of their own rider's to win. With Milan-San Remo over, next up is; the Tour of Flanders(Ronde van Vlaanderen), Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and the Giro di Lombardia. Belgian tough guys; Merckx, De Vlaeminck, and Van Looy have won all five 'Monument' one day races.
Often compare with Paris-Roubaix, the 'Ronde' also has cobble sections but unlike the flat 'Hell of the North', has many steep hills. The riders pain threshold will multiply as they climb up the many hills. Good for the cheering fans. Because that's where the painful expressions of the rider's can vividly be seen. A racer's not a hero until they can suffer!
The first edition, way back in 1913, was won by the Belgian spy, Paul Deman (See my January's post, 'Secret Agent Man'). Last year's Italian winner, Alessandro Ballan is back to defend his title.

Not so! If the Belgian riders have anything to say!

The machines are different but the riders have the same determination!

(Top photo): 'Ronde,' 1953. Wim Van Est(r) will win in front of teammate, Désiré Keteleer. Wool jersey's, tyres, steel frames but no helmets! From: www.wooljersey.com

(right): Contender, 'Torpedo' Tom Boonen. The new Belgian hero of the classics has won the 'Ronde' twice. (2005 & 2006)
From: www.daylife.com

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