Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013 Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen), Tomorrow

The 2013 Tour of Flanders will be held tomorrow. One of the five "monuments" of cycling, and the first of the Spring classics, it has been held since 1913. A tough race, and tougher yet tomorrow with very cold weather expected. As Andrea Tafi once said, "Only those who are in top condition can say that the Ronde is not hard. For everyone else, it's the Way of the Cross."

Pozzato in Gp Harelbeke
The only Italian among the top favorites is Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) who will have as teammates Mattia Cattaneo, Davide Cimolai, Elia Favilli, Massimo Graziato, Andrea Palini, Alessandro Petacchi, and Davide Viganò. Pozzato, who finished second last year to Tom Boonen said, "My shape is good and it was good also in Gp Harelbeke and Gand-Wevelgem: unluckily, I suffered too much from the cold weather. When I come back to Italy from from Belgium, I could train in warmer weather and I'm satisfied with my training. I think I'm ready to make efforts at 110% and I will spur my teammates to do the same. I'm sure they all will give their best, we all know that in order to try to reach our goal we must be perfect. In addition, I have an additional request: I'd like the weather to be good, without too much rain or deep cold."

Pozzato continued, "Concerning the opponents, Sagan and Cancellara are first in line: they both showed they're at the top. Boonen is not at 100%, but he's motivated for this race. In addition, Omega Pharam-Quickstep is a very competitive team, they can support Boonen in the best way."

Alessandro Ballan (BMC), who finished third last year, will not be in the race. 

In race history Belgian riders have had the most victories, 68, with Italians following with 10 victories (Netherlands 9, France 3, Germany 2, Switzerland 2, United Kingdom 1, Denmark 1).

The first Italian victory came in 1949 with Fiorenzo Magni. Before WWII the race was usually held on the same day as Milan-Sanremo which kept Italians at home and the French riders preferred Milan-Sanremo as well. In fact, the there was only one non-Belgian victory before WWII (in 1923 by Heiri Suter of Switzerland). Fiorenzo Magni went on to win the next two editions, 1950 and 1951. The other Italian winners have been:
1967 Dino Zandegù
1990 Moreno Argentin
1994 Gianno Bugno
1996 Michele Bartoli
2001 Gianluca Bortolami
2002 Andrea Tafi
2007 Alessandro Ballan

Gianluca Bortolami's victory in 2001 set the record for the fastest Tour of Flanders at an average speed of 43.6 km/h.

If you don't have access to TV broadcast of the race check for links to streaming video.

Photo: Bettini

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