Few weeks ago we were in Belgium at the Ronde Van Vlaanderen experiencing one of the most exciting atmospheres in cycling. There we also had the opportunity to meet some old friends and here you can read some insights from Florian, our ambassador and big fiend.
It's me Flo Nowak. You might know me from some of Sportfuls Social Media Posts.
Some weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join Sportful for a weekend full of cycling in Flanders. When they asked me if I wanted to join, I didn't even have to think for one second. The classics season is the most exciting one and Flanders is the holy land of cycling.
After my arrival and a nice dinner on Thursday evening we had the chance to visit the Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen in Oudenaarde to see the historical path of the race and get to know more about the race, the routes and its champions. That already gave me goosebumps and prepared for the excitement on Sunday. On top of that we had the chance to visit Sportfuls Pro Team Totales Direct Energy in their team hotel. It was amazing to see the big busses from the team and the mechanics working on the many many bikes, wheels and parts to be ready for the big day coming up. If you have never seen that, you will not be able to imagine how much effort and work the team behind the team is putting in to support the guys on the bikes. Every single detail needs to be checked several times. For example the tire pressure needs to be perfect at a race like Tour of Flanders so it definitely requires some precision to adjust everything right. After getting a short view behind the curtains it was time to meet the stars. Edvald Boason-Hagen was there for a lovely chat and some talks about team tactics, preparations for the riders and raceday thoughts. Also Peter (Sagan) stopped by and told us a little bit about his plans for Sunday. For me personally I really enjoyed being back with a professional team and these guys as I know some of them from my own days as a professional. So it was kind of a flashback to see all the helpers working together, the good atmosphere at dinner and the camaraderie. Luckily for us we could join the team for dinner as it gave us the perfect preparation for a hard and wet day in the saddle on the next day. Because before we were able to see those guys riding, it was our turn to do so.
The We Ride Flandres event is a great opportunity to catch the atmosphere of the Ronde and get a feeling for the route. As it was a typical day in Flandres with rain, storm and low temperatures we decided to do the short loop as we were there for good fun and entertainment. Fighting for the win was left to the Pros. Nevertheless if you have ridden in these conditions you know why the Fiandre line has its name. It is just made for these conditions and I am pretty sure a lot of us were super happy to have one of the precious jackets. So after 3 hours and good fun on the cobbles with the group we hit the final ascent to the famous Oude Kwaremont where we should see the race on the next day. This promised some excitement already as we could feel how hard it is to ride up there. After coming back to Oudenaarde we earned our beer and Belgium fries to end the day in a proper way.
Sunday was the day for every cycling fan out there. Making our way from the hotel in Kortrijk to the Oude Kwaaremont made us already feel the tension as I think I never saw that many cycling fans to see a race. Thousands and thousands of people walking, cycling and driving to the famous places to get a glimpse of the rides rushing by in some hours. For us we were lucky to have a reserved spot in one of the tents directly at the track. With three passages of the males race and one passage of the women's race the day should be filled with a lot of watching for us. Normally I would be supposed to write some impressions of how it was to see the racers coming by, but to be honest till now I have no words to describe this feeling. It was just amazing to see the speed, the cars, the bikes, the riders, to feel the wind and the tension when they were coming. Combined with good drinks and food we were able to enjoy the day to the fullest. No need to talk about the winners as you guys might have seen the race yourself anyway, so I will leave that up to you to catch the pictures.
I am pretty sure I want to be back next year, as the whole weekend was just an incredible experience. You really feel the love for cycling here and I want to experience that again.