05 April 2014

The 2014 Tour of Flanders

Big Day tomorrow in Belgium!

I had a friend ask me the other day, "How can I watch the Tour of Flanders?" I was going to begin my answer with - "Set your alarm for really early, get up, put on your bathrobe and slippers, make a big pot of coffee, grab a waffle to set the mood, and settle in to one of the best races of the pro season." But instead I gave a real answer, which was - "Go to CyclingFans.com or Steephill.TV, search for the race name Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen), click the link and then scroll down the page for live links."

Watch Tour of Flanders Live (links)

For English, select a Eurosport link or SKY link. I also recommend following live text updates on CyclingNews. To really know which climb they are on at the moment, refer to the official race website (even though it is not in English):

When to watch:
Start time: Sunday April 6 10:45 CET (2:45AM MDT)
Earliest live video: 12:00 CET (4:00:00 AM MDT)
Approximate finish: 16:41 CET (8:41:00 AM MDT)

I used to write up full race previews, but these days so many others do such a great job, I will simply refer you to the best resources I know: 

Route / Track / Parcours

Link to RVV route map and profile

200 riders, 25 teams, 8 riders each
Start: Brugge  -  Finish: Oudenaarde
Official Ronde van Vlaanderen Website
Flanders App
Live Wierlrennen 
Startlist & Top 15 Favorites via ProCycling Stats
Key climbs of the Tour of Flanders (Steephill.TV)
If it seems like they are going over the Kwaremont three times, it is because they are; the Paterberg is featured only twice this year. 

Race Preview
Team SKY race guide
C-Cycling preview (same as Cycling Tips)
Cycling Central
Top 10 Riders To Watch At The Tour Of Flanders GCN
Climb by Bike map of Ronde van Vlaanderen

Boonen, Cancellara and Sagan on Tour of Flanders
Tom Boonen interview about the "Old Kwaremont"
Tom Boonen interview about the "Patterberg" 

Bike Set-ups 
Peter Sagan's Cannondale bike for the 2014 Tour of Flanders
Pro bike: Taylor Phinney's BMC GF01
Gerald Ciolek’s Trek Domane SRAM RED 22 
Bikes and Gear for the 2014 Tour of Flanders 

Excellent Edition of Ronde van Vlaanderen Sportive
Fabian Cancellara is flesh and blood like the rest of us, By Matthew Beaudin

Results from 2013
1. Fabian Cancellara
2. Peter Sagan
3. Jurgen Roelandts 

And here is my tip on how to drive from the start in Brugge to the Kwaremont the back way and avoid traffic (from my trip to the Tour of Flanders in 2012, note the exact race route has changed since then): Stories from Belgium. And story from the day: A day on the Kwaremont.

I have such great memories of being at the Tour of Flanders in Belgium in 2012. I bought a VIP pass so I could get great access to the teams before the race start in Brugge. They treated us to an enormous breakfast first, which was the perfect way to begin the long day. Later a four-course dinner in the city of Kortrijk and a Westmalle Triple, was the perfect way to end one of the best days I have ever had being a fan of cycling.

 All Photos below by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer
At the start of the RVV in Brugge, it was so exciting to be there.
t'Zand square in Brugge on the morning of Tour of Flanders
Looking at bikes
And people
And teams
And riders
And cobble secteurs
I almost got run over by Fabian Cancellara just before the race started. Then I drove south from Brugge ...
And parked in a field in Belgium, hosted by some nice neighbors near the Kwaremont.
I waited on the Kwaremont with the fans for the peloton to arrive
To watch Tom Boonen on the cobbles
First time up the Oude Kwaremont
Watching the TV between laps (This is The ChainStays TV for their clients)
Second time up the Kwaremont
Narrow cobbles as the line of team cars rushed by
Waiting in between laps on the Kwaremont
Third time up Kwaremont
And then we all walked over to the nearby field to watch the free public large screen TV
And saw Tom Boomen eventually win the 2012 Tour of Flanders. A huge cheer rung out.

I can't wait for the race tomorrow!

2014 Tour of Flanders Race Results:
2014 Tour of Flanders Gallery by Tim De Waele

“You want to show you’re the strongest. And then when you win and you have this feeling, this new experience … tactics and feelings and mentality and power and luck and so many things, and it’s just something beautiful.” ~ Fabian Cancellara