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Gallery: Van Petegem on the Tour of Flanders course

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Peter Van Petegem is proud of his Flanders roots

Peter Van Petegem is proud of his Flanders roots (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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The new Flanders route has caused lots of controversy

The new Flanders route has caused lots of controversy (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Van Petegem relives former glories

Van Petegem relives former glories (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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There aren't many men better qualified to talk about the Tour of Flanders than Peter Van Petegem

There aren't many men better qualified to talk about the Tour of Flanders than Peter Van Petegem (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Making his point: Peter Van Petegem

Making his point: Peter Van Petegem (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Van Petegem won the Tour of Flanders in 1999 and 2003

Van Petegem won the Tour of Flanders in 1999 and 2003 (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Van Petegem tackles the cobbles on a beautiful Flanders morning

Van Petegem tackles the cobbles on a beautiful Flanders morning (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Several ascents and descents await the riders this Sunday in Flanders

Several ascents and descents await the riders this Sunday in Flanders (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Van Petegem secured the Flanders/Paris-Roubaix double in 2003

Van Petegem secured the Flanders/Paris-Roubaix double in 2003 (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Van Petegem retired from the saddle in 2007

Van Petegem retired from the saddle in 2007 (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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The roads of Flanders will test the peloton to the limit this weekend

The roads of Flanders will test the peloton to the limit this weekend (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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An example of the elevation on the course at Flanders

An example of the elevation on the course at Flanders (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Van Petegem does not miss the thrill of competition and is happily retired

Van Petegem does not miss the thrill of competition and is happily retired (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Come race day, thousands will line the streets in Flanders

Come race day, thousands will line the streets in Flanders (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Van Petegem rolls back the years

Van Petegem rolls back the years (Image credit: Photopress.be)
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Van Petegem will be an interested spectator this Sunday

Van Petegem will be an interested spectator this Sunday (Image credit: Photopress.be)

With two Tour of Flanders wins under his belt (1999 and 2003) and a childhood spent growing up in the east of the region, few men are more qualified than Peter Van Petegem to analyse the route and climbs for this year's race.

The 2012 edition of the Tour of Flanders takes place this Sunday (April 1) on a significantly altered course that has caused much controversy, mainly to do with the exclusion of the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen (Kapelmuur) climb, and the finish in the town of Oudenaarde instead of Meerbeke. Van Petegem, now 42, retired from professional cycling in 2007. As you'll see from our gallery and from his comments on the route, his passion for the sport still burns brightly.

The Oude Kwaremont

"For me, it is the slope that you can compare most with the the Muur," Van Petegem told Het Nieuwsblad. "Naturally, Oude Kwaremont is more like it than anything else. It is nowhere near as steep, but much longer and this ultimately equals the two out. On the first pass you need to be in a good position when you arrive. You should know that the Tour is not won on the climbs but in the flats. That is the real fight. At this stage of the race it is especially important not to waste energy. That Old Kwaremont is tough indeed."

The Paterberg

"While I find the Kwaremont to be more suited to a pure power man like Cancellara and Boonen, the Paterberg is a better climb because it is explosive," he said. "I compared the Old Kwaremont to the Muur, but the Paterberg definitely a lot harder than the Bosberg, the final climb in the past. If anyone drops the hammer here, there won't be any recovery. It's all the time uphill and downhill on narrow roads, and the wind that is on your back one minute and then right in your face or side a few corners later."

The Finale

"After the last run of the Paterberg there is around 10 flat kilometres to the finish in Oudenaarde," Van Petegem said. "Under normal conditions that's nothing, but now it can be very tough. At the end of the Tour, when the bugs bite in the muscles, there is not much more left in the tank. I'm also wondering how the wind will be. Nine days out of ten the wind is either a tailwind or cross-tailwind, but if not it can be an extra problem. All in all I think the sprint to the finish line will not be comparable to that of recent years towards Meerbeke. The false flat to the finish is in fact slightly less treacherous."