01 March 2014

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Three of my favorites riders won

There is nothing better to warm the soul on yet another cold snowy morning in Colorado than watching the first big cobbled race in Belgium live online. Through the over-pixeled image obscured further with raindrops on the moto camera lens, I sat mesmerized as the Belgian scenery rushed by, the uninterpretable dutch language described the action, and some of my favorite riders fought to win a bike race.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

The race may be hard to pronounce: Pronunciation of in Dutch

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad pronunciation Pronunciation by remak

Plus the route covers all those other bergs, not typically included in the Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen) in April. But cobbled racing is back, and it feels great to be watching racing in Europe again.

The race starts and ends in Ghent

Climbs in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad(locals call the race Gent-Gent):

Helling 1: Lieberg
Helling 2: Hostellerie
Helling 3: Muur (de Grammont!)
Helling 4: Valkenberg
Helling 5: Kruisberg
Helling 6: Taaienberg
Helling 7: Eikenberg
Helling 8: Wolvenberg
Helling 9: Leberg
Helling 10: Molenberg
And a bunch of other bumps to total 198.4 km in the rain.

Pedal Dancer Word of the Day: hellingen

Read more about each of these bergs in a series written by The Chain Stay cycling lodge and tour company in Oudenaarde: Monumental Bergs

2014 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Winners

1. Ian Stannard (UK)
2. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)
3. Edvald Boason Hagen (NOR)

Full Results
16 km to go: Winning Attack (01:07 Dutch)sporza.be via Steephill.TV

The creme of the crop stood on the podium today after the race, although I couldn't help but comment out loud - "man what an ugly trophy for all that work they did." Still if I could form my own fantasy team - I would hire all three of these men, and Bernie Eisel of course.

Two years ago I spent a morning in Kortrijk, Belgium, hanging around the teams - BMC, Lampre, and SKY - as they prepared for a training ride. It was the day before the Tour of Flanders.  No one was around but me and a couple others on the calm quiet morning near the team hotels. They were so kind to let me watch quietly and snap some photos as they came out to gather their bikes and gear and get ready to ride.

I have since seen many of them at more recent races, but these times in Belgium remain very fond memories. Read my stories: The Sky was blue and Hanging with the teams.

Ian Stannard  ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer®
Greg Van Avermaet  ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer®
Edvald Boasson Hagen  ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer®

Greg Van Avermaet is actually one of the most photogenic guys in the peloton, he and Joe Dombrowski never take a bad picture. And of course Bernhard Eisel (let's see how many more times I can mention Bernie - but heck, it is Classics season).

Bernie Eisel (AUT)   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer®
Bernie shared this photo below on Facebook today, which reminded me of how awesome the Mur de Grammont (Muur van Geraardsbergen) really is. I wish I knew who took his photo for him.

Bernie on the Muur van Geraardsbergen
My own photos of the Muur on a non race day. And my story when I visited: The Mur de Grammont

The Muur   ©Photo by Karen of PedalDancer®

More cobbles ahead

Belgian Semi-Classics (not on the UCI WorldTour):
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - 01 March 2014
Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - 02 March 2014 (this was the race canceled due to snow in 2013)
Scheldeprijsf - 9 April 2014
De Brabantse Pijl - 16 April 2014

The Spring Classics - the biggies are coming up:
E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke - 28 March 2014
Gent-Wevelgem - 30 March 2014
Tour des Flandres - 06 April 2014
Paris-Roubaix -13 April 2014
Amstel Gold - 20 April 2014
La Fleche Wallonne - 23 April 2014
Liège–Bastogne–Liège - 27 April 2014