Friday Group Ride #11

Het Volk, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Ghent-Ghent, pick your name, just don’t call it a semi-classic. Because, while it lacks the reverence of the monuments, the Ronde, the Paris-Roubaix, et. al., it does take on a special significance merely for opening the Belgian “road” season. By tradition it’s a semi, but in my heart it’s a real classic.

I place road in quotes above, because these cobbled races really sort of mark a transitional state somewhere between ‘cross and the road proper. Yes, there are roads involved. Road bikes are used, but success in these races goes beyond being able to ride a bicycle fast over a paved surface. They are part road race, part bull ride.

And so it begins.

This race has been on since 1945 and only failed to go off three times, all weather-related cancellations, which, in Belgium, is like saying they called it off because there were four horsemen galloping up the Koppenburg. This European winter has been pretty harsh, but we’ll likely get a race in this weekend anyway. I’ve seen that a number of the riders have been spinning around Spain and Italy to top off their training. I wonder what it will be like to step off the plane in Belgium and feel the weather and contemplate the saddle thrashing brutality of race day.

Rather predictably (and mercifully) this week’s Group Ride asks you to pick a winner. Keep in mind that Belgians almost always win this race. In 63 runnings, only nine have been taken by non-Belgian riders, though, in recent years Pippo Pozzato and Thor Hushovd have both claimed the honors.

There are too many potential winners for me to list them all here, which is exciting and saves me a bit of typing. I will ask that in naming your projected winner you give something of your rationale. “He has the best hair,” or “Because he really kicks ass,” are both acceptable, but I’m sure you can do better.

You get extra points (redeemable for blenders or luggage) for naming a winner of the women’s race. You win the day if you can name both in Flemish.

Image courtesy John Pierce, Photosport International

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  1. CK...

    EBH is going to win and Kirsten Wild is going to win for the women…I would love to say Boonen is going to win but I just don’t think he will have it

  2. Starr

    Boonen –> because the greats always like to have at least one win from each of the “big” events on their final Palmares

  3. Da Robot

    I’m going with Phillipe Gilbert, even though he missed the recon ride of the course. The race is on already. I should have gotten the Friday Ride up on Thursday, eh? Chalk it up to early season nerves.

    And I’m pulling for Liz Hatch for the women’s race, cause, in general, I’m pulling for Liz Hatch.

  4. Elcyclista

    I am pulling for Liz Hatch tonwin the mens race (my dream pick), but would love our Heinrich to win (pick from the heart), but in thinknit will be Bosan Hagen (the legs have it)

  5. souleur

    hmm…somehow I thought this one would come up, for me, its like christmas eve, SPRING CLASSICS BOYS!! is here!!

    I find everyone elses pick interesting.
    I will go with Edvald Boasson Hagen, even though sky is playing stupid so far this early in the season. He is strong, perhaps strong enough this one day. I also like Marcus Burghardt.
    Indeed, no denying Devolder is my favorite, but later. He tends to hold his form til later.


  6. souleur

    even i could understand the belgians saying ‘the sky’s the limit’….

    wows’r 1-2
    classy of flecha in tribute afterward when he talked to the media, he ‘saw frank’ today

    1. Padraig

      The solo victory is always PRO and its nice to see Flecha, who is a rare Spanish hard man, get his big win. And acknowledging a predecessor, a fallen rider, is big class. I love a guy with heart.

  7. Lachlan

    great ride, for a great race.

    But Robot… classics half cross?? Apart from length, rhythm, speed, style of riding, team play involved, equipment, everything about the course dynamics…. …. …

    Tough roads for sure, but nothing to do with cross.

  8. Da Robot

    @Lachlan You take me too seriously. I’m only clowning on group rides. A guy as slow as I am has no other choice. If you can’t make ’em hurt, you gotta make ’em laugh, right?

  9. SinglespeedJarv

    So who will win Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne? With Gilbert not racing, Boonen and Nuyens will be looking for a win after both looked strong yesterday but had flats at the wrong time. I’ll put them Haussler and Roelandts in the break along with a FDJ rider or two and EBH and Farrar. I reckon Boonen will win again.

  10. Da Robot

    I’m going to pick Edvald Bo-Hagen for K-B-K, only because I think Dave Brailsford will want to win the weekend for Sky, make a big splash on the scene. Boasson-Hagen made a big effort yesterday, but that kid is so strong. I think he’ll put it on for the win today.

    Dark horse – Yauheni Hutarovich

    Believe it.

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