Vlaanderen. Its no accident the Flemish word for Flanders starts with a V; there is nothing simple or easy about riding a bike here. If it isn’t wind, its steep bergs. If it isn’t tarmac, its cobbles. Most of the time, its all three. Oh, and the weather there sucks. In fact, Flanders doesn’t have weather – it has VVeather.
De Ronde and Roubaix are the hardest races of the year, and the natural inclination is to assume de Ronde might be the harder of the two due to the combination of cobbles and steep roads. But the cobbles in Belgium are flatter and better laid than those of Roubaix, and the climbs are short enough that you can hide on them. I say you can hide here, but there really isn’t any hiding on cobbles – what I mean is that you can drift through the groups and stay in contact even if you’re a little bit behind your form. I think that’s the secret to the men doing the double – hiding here while still looking for the last 1% of form – then then peaking for Roubaix.
But who gives a flying fuck about the Men? We’re here to talk about the women, who get to race this course a few hours earlier in the day. Elizabeth Armistead knows how to ride a bike, and she’s been winning or getting second places all season long. For her efforts, she’s racing in the World Cup leader’s jersey on Sunday. Lizzy is a waify little thing and I have my doubts she can put up the power you need on a course as demanding as this, but when you’ve got the form you can make anything happen. I’m also putting my money on a timely Evie Stevens performance. But no one can deny Vos will try to repeat after taking the win last year.
The points from the VVomen’s RVV count towards the overall prizes plus the winner of this event also gets to post for the rest of the year in the oh-so-sexy Lioness of Flanders badge. So check the start list, review the VSP Scoring Guidelines and get your picks in by the time the countdown clock goes to zero at midnight PDT on Sunday the 30th. If you think we mapped one of your picks wrong, use the dispute system and we’ll review it. Also remember to be precise enough in your description so we know which rider you mean; in other words, if you enter “Martin”, we will use our discretion (read: wild guess) to decide if you mean Tony or Dan – and that choice will not be negotiable once the the countdown clock goes to zero, so be sure to give yourself enough time.
Don’t forget we’ve got three major prizes for the season-long VSP:
- First place overall wins a Veloforma Strada iR Velominati Edition frame in addition to the customary VSP winner’s VVorkshop Apron
- Second place overall wins a set of hand built CR Wheelworks Arenberg wheelset in a custom Velominati paint scheme laced to orange Chris King hubs. (CR Wheelworks is Café Roubaix’s new wheel goods brand.)
- Third place overall wins a full Velominati V-Kit with accompanying custom orange Bont Vaypor+ road shoes.
Good luck, have fun with it, and don’t lose your Rule #43 spirit.