80th Ronde van Vlaanderen - Belgium

Early Reports - As it happens

Late News - Adjusted Results April 17

The Ronde van Vlaanderen race jury has issued an amended result. I don't know why (and it will doubtless create endless confusion in published race results later on).
Rolf Sorensen 11th becomes 9th
Gabriele Missaglia 9th becomes 11th

Preview - 80th Ronde van Vlaanderen - 267km April 71996

Winner in first race (1913): Paul Deman (Belgium)
Winner in last race (1995) Johan Museeuw (Belgium)

The Tour of Flanders starts in Sint-Niklaas 09.55 CET, with the first climb, the Tiegemberg, at approximately 12.45; the last climb, the Bosberg, at approx 16.10, and the finish at Meerbeke at approximately 16.30.

The Climbs

Distances are APPROXIMATE, based on last year's itinerary. Apart from the cobbled sections on the climbs there are a number of cobbled flat and downhill sections. One I know, for example, is a fast downhill stretch at ZEGELSEM, which leaves you with vibrating legs just as you hit the LEBERG climb. Another is the Paddestraat at ZOTTEGEM [218km]) :
1. TIEGEMBERG (km125) 750m long (tarred) 5.6% average, 5.6% maximum
2. KLUISBERG (km140) 1,800m long (tarred) 6.3% average, 15% maximum
3. COTE DE TRIEU (km147) 1,100m long (tarred) 8% average, 13% maximum
4. OUDE KWAREMONT (km153) 2,200m long (1,600m cobbled) 4.2% average, 11% maximum
5. PATERSBERG (km158) 375m long (all cobbled) 12.8% average, 20% maximum
6. KORTEKEER (km163) 1,000m long (tarred) 6.6% average, 15% maximum
7. TAAIENBERG (km173) 800m long (600m cobbled) 7.1% average, 18% maximum
8. EIKENBERG (km177) 1,200m long (all cobbled) 5% average, 11% maximum
9. VOLKEGEMBERG (km180) 800m (tarred) 9.9% average, 16% maximum
10. VARENTBERG (km192) 700m (tarred) 4.6% average, 15% maximum
11. LEBERG (km 197) 700m (tarred) 7.2% average, 14% maximum
12. MOLENBERG (km203) 500m (400m cobbled) 9.8% average, 17% maximum
13. BERENDRIES (km228) 900m (tarred) 7.2% average, 14% maximum
14. VALKENBERG (km???) 
15. MUUR-KAPELMUUR (GERAARDSBERGEN) (km246) 1,000m (500m cobbled) 9.3% average, 20% maximum
16. BOSBERG (km250) 1,350m (500m cobbled) 5% average, 11% maximum

Early Reports

Banesto Bikeless in Belgium

One team that no-one was likely to predict a victory for in today's Ronde van Vlaanderen was Banesto. But there was always that Brit's dream scenario of sprinter Jeremy Hunt hanging in with a lead group and then outwitting Museeuw, Steels or Tchmil.

Dream on. All Banesto's bikes were stolen yesterday and the team has scratched from the race.

A Sorry Tale from Roger

Don't hold your breaths. I'm aborting this exercise (for this race). Neither Europe 1 or France Inter (the two French radio stations I can pick up clearly in the UK) is even prepared to admit that the Ronde van Vlaanderen is running today. Well, with Fred Moncassin out with a head injury, they don't have a cat in hell's chance of winning, do they? (I'm not bitter -- it's just that I find national pride in sport admirable but chauvinism a total pain in the butt.)

They are not going to win Paris--Roubaix either, but I expect they'll drool over that next week (it's the centenary year and it's a national institution).

Life's too short, I'm off out for a ride. I'll post a result as soon as I get one...

Flash News

Michele Bartoli (It, MG Technogym) won the 80th Ronde van Vlaanderen. Bartoli attacked out of a lead group of 11 on the Muur at Geraardsbergen and built a lead of 58 secs in the last kilometres. Fabio Baldato (It, MG-Technogym) won the sprint for second place, with Johan Museeuw (Bel, Mapei-GB) third.

MEERBEKE, Belgium, Ronde van Vlaanderen (World Cup 2) 267 km:

 1. Michele Bartoli (Ita) MG-Technogym          6.31.29 (40,92 km/h)
 2. Fabio Baldato (Ita) MG-Technogym             + 0.55
 3. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-GB
 4. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) Rabobank
 5. Fabiano Fontanelli (Ita) MG-Technogym
 6. Andrej Tchmil (Ukr) Lotto
 7. Laurent Brochard (Fra) Festina
 8. Alexander Gontchenkov (Ukr) Roslotto
 9. RolfSorensen (Den) Rabobank
10. Peter van Petegem (Bel) TVM
11. Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) San Marco Group
12. Gianluca Pianegonda (Ita) Team Polti
13. Beat Zberg (Sch) Carrera
14. Gabriele Colombo (Ita) Gewiss
15. Andrea Tafi (Ita) Mapei-GB                  
16. Max Sciandri (GB, Motorola)
17. Cedric Vasseur (Fr, GAN)       		all s.t.
18. Franco Ballerini (It, Mapei-GB)     	 + 0.57
19. Maurizio Fondriest (It, Roslotto-ZG Mobili)  + 1.00
20. Erik Zabel (Ger, Telekom)    		 + 2:25
21. Marco Serpellini (Ita) Panaria
22. Mario Scirea (Ita) Saeco
23. Johan Capiot (Bel) Collstrop
24. Rolf Jarmann (Sch) MG-Technogym
25. Fabio Roscioli (Ita) Refin                   + 2.28
26. Edwig van Hooydonck (Bel) Rabobank           + 2.30
27. Carlo Bomans (Bel) Mapei-GB
28. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola               + 4.03
29. Brian Holm (Den) Telekom
30. Rolf Aldag (Ger) Telekom
31. Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco

World Cup standings after 2 events:

 1. Michele Bartoli (Ita) MG-Technogym           55 pts
 2. Fabio Baldato (Ita) MG-Technogym             51
 3. Gabriele Colombo (Ita) Gewiss                50
 4. Alexander Gontchenkov (Ukr) Roslotto         47
 5. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-GB                 37
 6. Michele Coppolillo (Ita) MG-Technogym        25
 7. Andrej Tchmil (Ukr) Lotto                    24
    Laurent Brochard (Fra) Festina               24
 9. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) Rabobank             20
    Maximilian Sciandri (Eng) Motorola           20
11. Fabiano Fontanelli (Ita) MG-Technogym        18
    Stefano Zanini (Ita) Gewiss                  18
13. Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco                  14
14. Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) San Marco Group     10
15. Peter van Petegem (Bel) TVM                   8
16. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola                6
    Rolf Sorensen (Den) Rabobank                  6
18. Gianluca Pianegonda (Ita) Team Polti          5

Team standings:

 1. MG Technogym (Ita)   24 pts
 2. Mapei-GB (Ita)       16
 3. Festina (And)        13
 4. Motorola (USA)       11
 5. Gewiss (Ita)          9
    Rabobank (Ned)        9
 7. Roslotto (Rus)        7
 8. Lotto (Bel)           6
 9. Once (Spa)            5
    Telekom (Ger)         5
11. Team Polti (Ita)      4
12. Saeco (Smr)           3
13. Gan (Fra)             2

Next World Cup-race: Paris-Roubaix, 14 April

Flanders Follow-Up

Survival of the Fastest

I missed Monday's L'Equipe so cannot give my customary full Classics result listing. But I understand 121 riders crossed the finish line. Only 111, however, were classified, the final 10 (Claeys, Van der Meer, Knaven, Heynderickx, Vierhouten, Thijs, Renders, Ozers, Verstrepen and Galletti) having finished -- at 24 minutes -- outside the time limit. The last finisher inside the limit -- at 17.47 -- was Davide Bramati (It, Ceramica Panaria-Vinavil).

Don't Blame the Belgians

Banesto's bikes, stolen Saturday forcing (their no doubt regretful) withdrawal from the race, were spirited away at Orly Airport in France en route between Spain and Belgium -- not in Belgium.

Bartoli Could Have Been Happier

Some of the shine was taken off Michele Bartoli's victory celebrations by his worrying about what ahd happened to his neo-pro team-mate Fabio Colombini. Only at eight in the evening was Colombini tracked down to a hospital in Oudenaarde, 50km from the finish, where he was being treated for a triple fracture of the pelvis after having crashed. Directeur-sportif Giancarlo Ferretti immediately set off for his bed-side. Forza Fabio!

Drop-out Makes Good

Michele Bartoli's father Graziano is a carpenter and former amateur cyclist. He gave Michele his first bike when the lad was three. "I did my first sprints in the street opposite our house," Bartoli recalled. "The guy I had to beat was my cousin. My brother Mauro, who's an amateur rider now, was too young. As for school, I was pretty well out of sorts with it. Things panned out well. School wasn't very pleased with me either. I followed the compulsory courses up to 14 then I left to work with my father who gave me a lot of encouragement to take up racing. You know, you won't find many books in my house."

God on the Grammont

"When I was climbing {the Grammont -- the Muur at Geraardsbergen]," said Bartoli, "I even asked a little help from the good God. 'Make it so that I hold out to the end,' I prayed." He explained this after making the sign of the cross at the finish and seeing people around him smiling. "Yes, I know, I know. God's got more important things to do than to give a bike race to a bloke like me. But when your legs are burning, when you've given everything, who are you going to run to, who can you ask for help?"


Does anyone know if Frederic Moncassin started the race? He was listed in the GAN team and L'Equipe had it that he'd been cleared for action earlier than expected after his post-finish crash in the Three Days of De Panne, when he was diagnosed as having a fracture in the bony structure around one ear. GAN team doctor Patrick Nedelec said: "Today modern techniques enable us to accelerate the healing process, and all pain has also disappeared." Whatever, it's all good news looking forward to next weekend's Paris-Roubaix, which Moncassin had down as his main early-season objective.