April 9, 2009
When does the sun shine in Belgium?!?
The women's Ronde van Vlaanderen was the second race on the women's World Cup circuit, featuring fog, rice cake and cobblestones. Eva Lutz reports on falling and getting back up to keep on going.
Somehow the Belgians must have forgotten to pay a bill or something – I can't think of any other reason why the sun never shines here. On our way to the start the fog was so thick that you could barely see 100 metres ahead! Our friends at home were sitting on their patios eating breakfast in the sun, and we stood at the starting line and froze...
Nobody gave us any chocolate this time, but our press spokesman "Flocki" (Stephan Flock) had given us some of the delicious Belgian rice cake in the bus. Even if the sun doesn't shine, that cake is worth the trip to Flanders!
The Molenberg, came 25 kilometres after the start. If you are 30th back, you may as well climb off and push your bike up, it's that crowded. Right in front of me, two girls ran into each other. I "stumbled" over the bikes lying on the ground and did a somersault. Nina (Christina Becker) waited for me.
Now I only had to get up..... But where is my bike? I pull one out of the mass and think, blue?!? Did we have a blue stripe? No, I think my "Rennkeva" looks different.... I put that bike aside and with the next grab I have my Fuji. No damage at all. Wiesy (our mechanic) gave me a push and on Nina's rear wheel, we work our way up through the auto caravan. We made it, all back together in the field!
Groups of fans stood around everywhere. They cheered us on, there is music, noise, signs. Somewhere I even heard my own name. Yes, it was fun to ride here! Even when I knew that this party is really only because of the men's race.
The main field stayed together as it approached the Muur van Geraardsbergen, 16 km before the finish. 475 metres long, up to 20% gradient and totally covered with cobblestones, this was the decision maker. Tight together, we were watched by the fans as we worked our way up. I could barely hear them yelling as I was fighting with my bike and my legs. When I stood up, my rear wheel jumped over the cobbles, but somehow I fought my way to the top.
We were a group of 20 racers at the finish, including lots of sprinters. That's not so much my thing...
Next week I will be back after the Keienstrook in Drenthe – the cobblestone Classic for women.
Until then many greetings from