The 99th Tour of Flanders or De Ronde is Sunday. It doesn't come bigger than this in cycling mad Belgium. Since 1913, it's been home field advantage for the boys of Belgium - 68 wins and counting. The course is daunting: 264kms over 19 hellingen (hills) and countless kasseien (cobbles). A successful rider must be strong to power up the short, steep cobbled hills and have enough in the tank to win at the end.
The nearly man that has tons of talent, and needs that hint of luck to win is Sep Vanmarcke. His early classic form is glowing: 5th in E3 and Het Nieuwsblad, 4th in Strade Bianche and 6th in the apocalyptic Gent Wevelgem he could become the next Lion of Flanders.
The introduction are sweet words by Bram Tankink...
"I love the cobbles! I love their smell and the mud in between them."