Tour of Flanders 2012

Michael Vennard on the Kwaremont

Riding a 140K Sportive and watching the Professional Race were to be the highlights for Tom Butler, Jonny Croston and Michael Vennard, who boarded the overnight Ferry in Hull on a Thursday evening, heading for Zeebrugge and then Oudenarde in Flanders for a long weekend at the ultimate festival of single day cycling, The Tour of Flanders or Ronde Van Vlaanderen.

On Friday they took a  ride to Ypres  in preparation for the Saturday Sportive. More than 25000 cyclists took part in the Sportive, a 140k course over most of the iconic climbs of the famous race, including the two used in the finishing circuit, the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg. The Hallmarks of the sportive is the superb organisation and reasonable cost of entry. The route was well marshalled, every turn manned and the route permanently marked. 

Every climb was preceded by a sign posted giving length of climb, percentage gradient. 3 hectic official feed stations, employed a ‘funnel’ system to channel cyclists through to waffles, caramel wafers, cake, muesli bars, bananas, water and energy drinks. Shimano vans and mechanics were out providing support to unfortunates suffering mechanicals.

At the Sportive Start

The good weather brought the crowds out, cheering the riders on along the route and particularly at the top of the climbs. Flandrians certainly appreciate cycling, cyclists and the Ronde Van Vlanderen. Our three riders certainly appreciated their support. 

Michael Vennard was the first Calder Clarionista to finish the ride in 5 hours and 2 minutes, a ride which gave him a Calder Gold Standard award, despite the pave and 15 climbs. Jonny Croston was a minute further back, a Silver standard achieved and Tom Butler crossed the line in time to bag a gold standard award. 
 On finishing the course, riders exchanged their numbers for a 5 euro refund from their €18 euro entry fee and given a cap, a medal or t-shirt. 
Tom Butler on the  Taaienberg 
On Sunday they cycled down to beautiful, old Oudenarde Square to watch the  Women’s signing on before riding to various viewpoints to watch both men’s and women’s races. With the new race route finishing in OUdenarde and a finishing circuit involving the Oulde Kwaremont and Pateburg, the place to be was on the Kwaremont where the trio were able to buy beer and watch the end of the race on a big screen. 

Jonny and Tom waiting for the
Ronde on the Oulde Kwaremont

In the end, it was a good day for the thousands of locals watching with Tom Boonen comfortably outsprinting his two breakaway companions, Italians, Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan, to the line. Germany’s Judith Arndt won the women’s race

Whilst in Oudenarde, the trio bumped into Ian Steeper who was also following the classic by bike with Stuart from Knaresborough.

Michael Vennard’s Video
A Well deserved beer. Michael Vennard, Tom Butler,
Ian Steeper & Jonny Croston

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