How time flies, the festive season is already upon us and new year celebrations are just around the corner. All this has got me thinking about what I consider to be some of my favourite moments in pro-cycling from not only this year but also from the entire decade. There are plenty of memorable moments to choose from so I've decided to indulge from time to time by featuring anecdotes, images and clips from different races
I'll start with one of my favourites from this years spring classics, the Tour of Flanders. I was lucky enough to experience the incident packed race live and have many great personal memories from being in Flanders for the weekend. Betty and I ventured over to Belgium to watch the race from atop the Kapelmuur in Geraadsbergen. I know it's an obvious choice of location but since this was the first time we'd been to Belgium to watch a classic we decided to do it from a point on the course with not only great atmosphere but also of great strategic importance.
On the morning of the big day we cycled to the Kapelmuur from our hotel, a distance of maybe 30km. We immediately (unofficially) tagged onto the amateur Tour of Flanders sportive and after less than 1km of pave my poor De Rosa's breaks started jamming and the bar tape started to peel off. I ended up stopping at a conveniently situated bike shop at the end of the pave section to get the bike sorted, pathetic really. I have say chapeau to Betty through as her LeMond held up pretty well against the bone shaking farm tracks.
Eventually we made it to the town of Geraadsbergen and cycled through it's historical cobbled streets weaving our way gradually upward towards the famous Kapelmuur. As we got closer the road barriers started to line the streets and as the crowds built the excitement grew. We indexed through the gears on our bikes as the incline steepened. I remember getting a cheer from some onlookers as we got to within 500 metres of the Kapelmuur, just before where Fabian Cancellara attacked Tom Boonen.
Betty positioned herself in a great spot next to a few pro photographers. For the best part of three hours she patiently waited for the race to arrive. Her patience paid off because she ended up taking many great shots of the different riders as they reached the final bend before arriving at the Muur's summit. The above image of Cancellara was taken by Betty just moments after he'd attacked.
What a day it was for Team Saxo Bank. They managed to demonstrate the best and the worst in bike changing manoeuvres. Matti Breschel had looked so strong but lost big time when his mechanic managed to hand him Stuart O'Grady's bike by mistake, a mistake that arguably cost poor Matti the race. Then of course we were treated to the most perfect of bike changes when Cancellara, and the mechanic, showed us how it should really be done. I wonder if it was the same mechanic on both occasions? It is after these events that Cancellara attacks with what looks like such nonchalance. Remember this was the week before rumours started flying around about whether or not Cancellara had a concealed motor in the frame of his bike. Judging by the way Cancellara stamped his authority on the Muur against a man of Boonen's calibre it shows us that Cancellara was in the absolute best form of his life. Check out the great clip below showing Cancellara attacking then cresting the Kapelmuur.
Visiting Vlaanderens Mooiste (Flanders' finest) for the first time was an absolute treat and one that I can recommend to any fan of bike racing. In fact it has wet my appetite for more and I'll no doubt be making the short hop over to Belgium again in the near future.
See more of Betty's images from the Tour of Flanders 2010 here.