Velominati Super Prestige: Gent-Wevelgem

Riders hoof it up the Kemmelberg

Rain. Cobbles. Bergs. Professional cyclists reduced to mortals who clammer up steep, slick cobbled grades on shoes not made for walking. Gent-Wevelgem is the teaser for the month of April, when the hardmen come to play on the stones of Belgium and Northern France. Personally, I liked it better when it was sandwiched between the two greatest one-day races of the year, De Ronde and Roubaix. On the other hand, Gent has been the Classic’s bridesmaid for long enough and deserves its own weekend, even if that still makes it a warm-up race to be won by someone who’s not enough weeks away from peaking.

The Flemish word for “hill” is “berg”, and to ask any cyclist who doesn’t live there, they’ll tell you Flanders is rife with them. The truth is that most of Flanders is quite flat, save for a ridge which calls itself home to some of the most fearsome cobbled climbs in the world.  Among these is de Kemmelberg, which features as the primary obstacle for Gent Wevelgem. Steep and cobbled, on a dry day it serves as the decisive climb on the finishing circuit of three laps; on a rainy day it will reap havoc on the field.

With that, we kick off the second edition of the 2011 Velominati Super Prestige for Gent-Wevelgem. Like La Primavera, Gent is enough of a wild-card that this is a tough race to call.  It rarely ends in a bunch gallop, but it’s not difficult enough to eliminate sprinters from the finale. The riders targeting Flanders or Roubaix will not quite be peaking yet, but the race isn’t so difficult that a rider two weeks from peaking can’t win. Our advice? Go with the gut, and try to pick people who are actually starting.

The winner of this VSP edition will earn an “Obey the Rules” bumper sticker and all reader’s points qualify towards the final prize of the free personalized Velominati Shop Apron. This year we’ve enhanced the entry mechanism; if you are inclined to enter, simply post your predictions for the top five placings in the designated area above the posts section, bearing in mind that entry/modification of picks closes at 5am Pacific time on the day of the race. Check the Super-Prestige main page for rules and scoring information.

Good luck.

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173 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Gent-Wevelgem”

  1. @minion

    Yeah, schade is German slang for shame, as in ‘oh, that’s a shame’, and the freude has the same root as friend, so there is some empathy or kind consideration to the word as I understand it in German. The pleasure in someone else’s misfortune is still there, but it’s a tricky one to translate for sure.

    Actually, “freude” means pleasure, so it means, literally, pleasure in someone else’s misfortune. The word you’re thinking of having to do with friends has an “n” in there, as in Freunden (friends).

    But who’s counting.

  2. Scuba Steve :
    Hate to be a pain FRANK,
    I show up twice on the leader board (4th and 17th) I scored 5 in round 1 and 8 in round 2. I used the same user name (ScubaSteve) but may have had different log ins or email addresses when entering my yips. Can this be sorted?

    DAMN! There goes my jersey! :) (feel like I just got caught with some Spanish beef hanging out of my mouth!)

    Sounds like Scuba Steve is the one who’s been doing the email doping! Indeed, picks are based on email address, not screen name (anyone can enter the same screen name, but email addresses are unique)…I’ll sort it for you here as soon as I can get to it.

    Sorry Buck, you had a good run. I’ll even post a screen shot for you so you can have it for posterity.

  3. Funny story: I know this really smart guy, see. And one day I asked him “Hey Peter, what’s that German word…” that’s as far as I get when he says “Schadenfreude”. I say “How did you know that that was the word I was talking about?” He says “Knowing you, that’s the only German word you’d ever be concerned with.”

  4. I’m on the board! I got a (1) point!

    Yes. I suck. But wait until we come to the mountains. Yeah. The mountains. I’m sure I’ll shine there. I’m a grimpeur. I climb well for my weight, I think. You betcha.

    Oh, who the fuck am I kidding?

    Does anyone have a Spanish rancher’s email address? Frank’s not drug testing (that I know of), and I need a little help. Muchas gracias.

  5. @Nate
    I actually drove my truck an hour north of Houston to ride 110km of rolling “hills”. It’s pathetic that I have to drive 160km round-trip just to get a little elevation. To me, that defeats the purpose of riding a bike in the first place. I WANT to leave the automobile and ride my bike–not drive my bike somewhere so I can ride it.

    As for my ability to achieve in the VSP, I’m so bad it’s starting to bother me.

  6. @all
    The VSP Jury has ruled on our first adverse analytical finding for the use of performance enhancing email addresses. Buck Rogers has been stripped of his striped tunic and Scuba Steve has taken the lead. Because there was no evidence that Buck used performance-enhancing email addresses during the VSP Gent Wevelgem edition, he does retain his results and points.



  7. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Pantani was dead-last in the Prologue of the ’98 Tour. Then he attacked on the Galibier and blew the race open. The season is long; lots of opportunity to stop sucking so much.

  8. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    I’ve been to Dallas/Ft Worth/Plano but never Houston, I can’t believe there are places so pan flat for so far.

    Any 10+ story parking garages you could climb? Ha…

  9. frank:
    @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Pantani was dead-last in the Prologue of the ’98 Tour. Then he attacked on the Galibier and blew the race open. The season is long; lots of opportunity to stop sucking so much.

    Not dead last, 181st out of 189.

  10. @mcsqueak
    Try Lubbock, TX. I think the musician, Joe Ely, said something about how you could look any direction in Lubbock and see for 25 miles. Then step up on a tuna can and see for 50 miles. I’ve been there, and it’s true.

    Parking garages are pretty good for longboarding, but not so much for cycling. There are a couple of overpasses that work. But if I want to get into some rollers, I have to drive out of town.

  11. @frank
    I’ve retained Howard Jacobs, Landis’ lawyer from back in ’06, as council and will be setting up a Defence Fund (cash only please–feel free to send it to my home address, or even gift certificates to Competetive Cyclist would work) to fight these egregious accusations!

  12. Jeff in PetroMetro :
    @mcsqueak Try Lubbock, TX. I think the musician, Joe Ely, said something about how you could look any direction in Lubbock and see for 25 miles. Then step up on a tuna can and see for 50 miles. I’ve been there, and it’s true.

    And the musician Nancy Griffith (on “One Fair Summer’s Evening” – one of my favourite country albums), relating how her great aunt Netty-Mae lived in Lockville, TX, explains that Lockville is near Lubbock “but not too close to Lubbock – nobody wants to get TOO close to Lubbock”. Nanci then goes on to explain that it blew so hard in Lockville that Netty-Mae was sometimes afraid to go to sleep at night in case she woke up in the morning in Oklahoma “and she, by God, didn’t want to live in Oklahoma”. Now, I know from “Oklahoma” (the musical) that Oklahoma (the state) is a place where the wind comes whistling down the plains. And I know from Nanci Griffith that Texas has a similar issue. So those of you who chose to live and cycle there have both my sympathies and my respect. But I won’t be coming to visit. Unless Nanci is there. And Lance isn’t.

  13. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Don’t worry JiPM, my VSP is certain to be like my climbing on a group ride. Near the front at the start followed by the inevitable fade to the back as the grade and kms mount. Wave when you pass by.

    Anyway, we’re all fucked because Scuba Steve has an apparatus and it’s self-contained.

  14. @G’phant
    I had the most wicked crush on Nanci when I was at UT Austin in the late 80’s.

    Her grandmother’s story about Oklahoma is pretty funny. The running joke about Oklahoma is, “How come Texas doesn’t fall into the Gulf of Mexico? ‘Cause Oklahoma sucks.” In truth, parts of Oklahoma are absolutely stunning. Hilly, lush, just gorgeous. So’s Arkansas. In fact, Competitive Cyclist is based out of Little Rock, Arkansas. Pretty excellent cycling communities in both states. But the drivers aren’t too friendly–what’s new?

  15. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Next time you head north, stop in Nacogdoches where my brother is head track and field coach at SFA. Maybe he can do you some motorpacing while poking at you with a javelin. Good times.

  16. @xyxax
    Cool! Go Lumberjacks!

    I still have NCAA eligibility. Does he offer a scholarship for the javelin catch? I think I’d have a real talent for it.

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