Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tomorrow: Tour of Flanders

Tomorrow is the 94th edition of the Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen), a one day road race that is one of the "monuments" of cycling. The race distance is 262km with 15, mostly cobbled, climbs. It's a hugely important race for Belgian riders and a visual spectacle for fans.

Belgian riders have won 66 editions and the list of winners is rich of legendary names. Only four riders have won the Tour of Flanders three times: Belgians Achiel Buysse (1940, 1941, 1943), Eric Leman (1970, 1972, 1973) and Johan Museeuw (1993, 1995, 1998), and Italian Fiorenzo Magni (1949, 1950, 1951). Magni was the only one to achieve three consecutive victories. Museeuw was also on the podium another 5 times, three 2nd places, and two 3rd places. Belgian rider Alberic Schotte was also on the podium 8 times with 2 victories, two 2nd places, and four 3rd places.

Italians account for 10 victories. Magni's three plus those of Dino Zandegù (1967), Moreno Argentin (1990), Gianni Bugno (1994), Michele Bartoli (1996), Gianluca Bortolami (2001), Andrea Tafi (2002), and Alessandro Ballan (2007).

Two Belgian riders have a chance to win their third Tour of Flanders this year: Tom Boonen who won in 2005 and 2006, and Stijn Devolder who had consecutive victories in 2008 and 2009 and who could tie Magni's record.

Definitely a race not to miss.

Photo: one of the climbs in the race

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