27 March 2011

Flags of the cobbles

Pride of the Classics 
Belgium Flag, Wallonie Flag, Flanders Flag
French Flag, Dutch Flag, Luxembourg Flag
When I think of the spring classics I think of Belgium. I invision the cobbles, the weather, the beer, the hardy fans, and the flags. But the one day spring classic races attract fans from all over western Europe - Dutch, Flemish, French, British, and many others. When I think of Paris-Roubaix, I almost forget that Paris-Roubaix is a French race, on French terrain, run to the doorstep of Belgium, but not over it's border, mostly because the flags I always see flying high at Paris-Roubaix are Flemish.
Belgium is crazy about cycling. Belgium is 58% Dutch, the northern more prosperous area is called Flanders where they speak Dutch (Flemish). The Flag of Flanders is the very recognizable bright yellow flag with the black lion. The south of Belgium is called Wallonie where they speak French. The flag of Wallonie is the bright yellow flag with the red rooster. I have learned not to get these two flags mixed up! I've also learned to remember who is running which race, and to never forget the life-changing importance to any rider lucky enough to win one of the Classics.
(I love that this map is titled as a beer guide map)
Spring one-day races
The Belgian classic races are: Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), Gent–Wevelgem, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège
The French classic race is: Paris-Roubaix
The Italian classic race is: Milano-Sanremo
The Dutch classic race is: Amstel Gold Race
This is my kind of March Madness (the traditional schedule changed this year)
  • Sunday, March 16, 2011:  Milan-San Remo
  • Sunday, March 27, 2011:  Gent-Wevelgem 
  • Sunday, April 3, 2011:  Tour of Flanders
  • Sunday, April 10, 2011:  Paris-Roubaix
  • Sunday, April 17, 2011:  Amstel-Gold
  • Wednesday, April 20, 2011:  Fleche-Wallonne
  • Sunday, April 24, 2011:  Liege-Bastogne-Liege