Tour of Flanders 2007
My first time at the Tour of Flanders was in 1987, on the SuperMercati Brianzoli team car; our man for the race was a rookie Tony Rominger, our car was the 19th of the group (randomly chosen), the back of the peloton far away over an infinite labyrinth of corners, large roads that suddenly became as narrow as paths, lots of pave, the long line of riders that were getting dropped, chasing, getting back on, then getting dropped definitively again.
There was simply no way to get to the head of the race, while the radio kept crackling something incomprehensible.
After about 200 km of chasing, finally we managed to catch up with a small gruppetto where we find our Tony leading with a hard pace.
Just another of the countless hills and only 2 men remained: Rominger and Wegmuller, excellent rouleur-time trialist.
Together they kept flying at over 50 km/h, catching up and passing other athletes; it seemed impossible that other cyclists ahead of them could be faster.
“They have to be in the first 30” I dared.
“Maybe even in the top 20”, added the DS next to me, Stanga.
But no sight of the head of the race.
We could see the helicopters, they seemed close, but the labyrinth of the race tricks everyone with its scribbles of left and right turns, back and forth, up and down the “muurs”, all in an area of a few km.
That evening at the hotel we looked for the results of “our” men: they arrived 50th and 51st respectively, 8 minutes after the winner…
2007: the race watched on TV has a different effect, although the course is the same; the average speed is high, but it’s tough to appreciate the natural and unmerciful selection at the end of the peloton.
A lot of riders arrived at the beginning of the Grammont, well over 50, maybe favored by the fair weather. The strongest of the day was Alessandro Ballan, who got to the top the hill first; Hoste chased and caught up with him, the others behind trying to get back on them only a few seconds behind: truly an exciting finale.
Ballan rightly took the final sprint, while an impressive Fabian Cancellara sent clear signals to everyone by checking his legs for the upcoming Paris-Roubaix…