While training on the Tour of Flanders course last week I rode with a helmet camera and captured some of the cobbled sectors. The camera came loose a few times so my teammate Juan Antonio Flecha edited the segments on his computer and we put together a short film . The team riding on the cobbles was: Juan Anotonio Flecha, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Mathew Hayman, Greg Henderson, Ian Stannard and G’ Thomas. You can make out a few of the faces in the film. The rider who takes off on the cobbled section, the Holleweg, is Flecha–we rode the section quite quickly which the camera captures.
The camera doesnt come close to capturing the gradient of the cobbled climb though. It was neat to see commuters riding the cobbles in the other direction on their way to work–you can see a woman riding her city bike along the smooth bit of stones on the left side of the road coming towards us. Riding the course is something unique even when we are not racing. The history, the culture and difficulty brings out an excitement in the team not felt elsewhere.
The Tour of Flanders course is extremely technical and for riders who don’t live near the course and know the roads well, a reconnaissance ride prior to the race is vital . The fight for position before the cobbled sections is as crucial as a rider’s skills on the cobbles, as the peloton splits on the small roads due to bottlenecks and crashes. Most teams ride the final 100 km of the course prior to the race to preview the stones and find the smoothest and quickest line. We rode the course the day after Dwaars door Vlaanderen–a midweek semi-Classic.
Most of the boys were tired from a hard and well fought race while Edvald Boasson Hagen and I had fresh legs from a few days of rest post Milan Sanremo. The weather was abnormally warm for Belgium which made the countryside all the more beautiful. This weekend will be big: E3 Prijs-Vlaanderen-Harelbeke and Gent Wevelgem. The team is prepared for a tough battle–rain is in the forecast and the temperatures will drop.