The 97th Ronde van Vlaanderen will be held Sunday, March 31st in – according to the latest forecast – pretty damn cold conditions.
This Classics ‘Monument’ is the biggest race in Belgium, and that’s saying something, if you know how nuts Belgians are for cycling races. More correctly, though, it is a a Flandrian race, since it is basically a squiggly route that winds through the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium – Flanders.
Like 2012, the route this year will climb both the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg three times, from what I can gather. I had the ‘pleasure’ of climbing these (and 3 others) a couple of years ago. The climbs of the Tour of Flanders are not long, but they are numerous, steep and often cobbled. You need to climb up 600 meters of cobbled, 11.6% hill to really appreciate how tough cycling can be.
The usual cast of ‘hard men’ will be riding this Sunday – a revitalized Cancellara, an injured Boonen, an unstoppable Sagan and a host of others who could win this thing. My pick is Cancellara, but I’d really love to see Chavanel win. He’s always the bridesmaid, but with teammate Boonen off his game at the moment he might be allowed to do something special.