This Sunday the cycling world will focus its attention on the Flanders region of Belgium for the second "Monument" of the 2014 season: the Tour of Flanders. To get you in the mood, here are a selection of images from recent decades of this great race. Enjoy!
Over the past few weeks we’ve seen the usual build-up to “Vlaanderens mooiste” (“Flanders’ best”) including E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem last weekend to name just a couple. But on Sunday it’s time for the real deal: a 259km race from Brugge to Oudenaarde with 16 cobbled sectors — a number of which include steep climbs. The last two climbs, the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg, will almost certainly decide the race.
The weather forecast suggests the riders might be in for some afternoon showers on Sunday, but what effect that will have on the race remains to be seen.
Fabian Cancellara goes into the race as the defending champion and the big favourite, while Peter Sagan will be keen to go one better than the second place he managed last year. And Tom Boonen appears to be in better form than he was in 2013 and despite a recent family tragedy, the three-time winner certainly shouldn’t be written off. Click here for a full preview of the race.
If you’re in Australia and you’re keen to watch the race — and you should be! — tune in to Eurosport (Foxtel channel 511) from 8.30pm or to SBS from midnight on Sunday. Until then, we hope you enjoy these stunning photos from past editions of the race.
Roger De Vlaeminck, Eddy Merckx and Freddy Maertens do battle in the 1977 edition of the Tour of Flanders which De Vlaeminck would go on to win.
Eddy Merckx (right) won the Tour of Flanders twice, in 1969 and 1975.
Local hero Roger de Vlaeminck (nicknamed “The Gypsy”) won the Tour of Flanders in 1977.
Gregor Braun (right) and Francesco Moser (left) during the 1981 Tour of Flanders.
Francesco Moser gets a helping hand from a teammate on the Koppenberg.
Rene Martens celebrates his win in 1982.
In 1985 Dutch rider Jan Raas was angry with a photographer who was in his way on the Koppenberg and subsequently punched him. Eric Vanderaerden won that edition of Flanders, but Raas won it twice, in ’79 and ’83.
The Koppenberg climb is one of the most famous cobbled climbs in Belgium and was first added to the Tour of Flanders in 1976.
Jan Raas, Phil Anderson and Marc Sergeant ride a wet and muddy course during the 1983 Tour of Flanders. Only two riders – Phil Anderson and Jan Raas – got up the Koppenberg without walking. Raas would go on to win the race.
Eddy Planckaert (left) was the winner of the 1988 edition and Michele Bartoli (right) took out the 1996 edition.
Allan Peiper sports a helmet that was much more fashionable than those worn today. Notice Phil Anderson in the Motorola kit close behind. Peiper’s best result at Flanders was 7th in ’89, and 10th in ’87. Allan is basically a “Flandrian” himself and still lives in Gent. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading his book, “A Peiper’s Tale”
Andrei Tchmil and Johan Museeuw climb the Bosberg in the 2000 edition of the race which Tchmile won. Check out those quads – they don’t build ‘em like they used to…
Michele Bartoli and Andrea Tafi lead the peloton in the iconic Mapei colours during the 2000 Tour of Flanders.
Peter van Petegem (Lotto) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) during the 2005 Tour of Flanders — the first of Boonen’s victories. Van Petegem won in 2003 and Steffen Wesemann (behind) won in 2004.
Tom Boonen, Filippo Pozzato (Quick Step), Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) and George Hincapie (Discovery) ride the 2006 Tour of Flanders.
World Champion Tom Boonen leads Leif Hoste while on his way to a second consecutive Ronde van Vlaanderen victory in 2006.
The horn jingle of the Rodania car is iconic at Belgian races. Rodania is a Swiss watch company.
The peloton begins the 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Stijn Devolder takes his first of two consecutive Flanders victories in 2008.
Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) lead a strung-out peloton up the Koppenberg in 2009.
Stijn Devolder (QuickStep) climbs the Muur van Geraardsbergen on his way to winning a second consecutive Tour of Flanders in 2009.
Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) celebrates after winning the 2009 Tour of Flanders.
We’ve seen riders walk up the Koppenberg many times in the past. It’s not that it’s an extremely steep climb, but rather the cobbles and technical nature of negotiating the roughness and steepness at the same time. The climb is only 600m long with an average gradient of 11% (max 22%). In pre-2012 editions of Flanders, strategically, the Koppenberg had little importance: it was too far from the finish (70-80km). Even if a breakaway forms on the Koppenberg it is difficult for riders to hold off the peloton. But in 2012 the changes to the course made the Koppenberg only 60km from the finish which made the climb more decisive.
Lance Armstrong last raced the Tour of Flanders in 2010, and did so a few times in his career. He never came close to winning, and even if he was charged up to the eyeballs like he was in the Tour, this wasn’t a race for him.
Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) monsters the cobbles on this way to winning the 2010 Tour of Flanders by 1:15 over Tom Boonen.
Tom Boonen loses contact with Cancellara on the Muur during the 2010 Tour of Flanders. This is where Cancellara made his move (allegedly with a motor in his bike) and went on to win Paris-Roubaix the following weekend.
Cancellara’s first of two wins at the Tour of Flanders … so far.
Gilbert attacks the breakaway group at the Bosberg in 2011. Alessandro Ballan is there gritting his teeth behind him. Ballan won the race in 2007 and we haven’t seen him in winning form since.
Nick Nuyens on the Muur in 2011. He wasn’t the strongest rider in the race, but he was able to follow wheels until the end and eventually won the bunch sprint. We haven’t seen much from him since.
Nick Nuyens outsprints and outwits Fabian Cancellara and Sylvain Chavanel in 2011. He wasn’t the strongest rider in the race, but he was the smartest.
It’s said that the first ever “Manneken Pis” famous statue is found in Brussels, however we’re told that this statue in the town next to the Muur van Geraardsbergen is the original. The only time he has stopped peeing was for 2 days of mourning when the Muur was “decapitated” from the Tour of Flanders in 2012. “Spectator access” was the reason cited for this change.
In 2012 Judith Arndt (GreenEDGE-AIS) became only the second rider to win two editions of the Women’s Tour of Flanders since it began in 2004. The other dual winner was Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel, who won in 2005 and 2006.
The peloton heads off out of the current start town of Brugge. The race originally started from Gent, but moved to Sint-Niklaas from 1977-1997. It’s now been held in the beautiful town center of Brugge since 1998.
Spectators line the course at the 2012 Tour of Flanders.
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma – Quickstep) Filippo Pozzato (Team Farnese) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) climb the Paterberg climb in 2012 which replaced the Muur.
Tom Boonen outsprints Filippo Pozzato (and Alessandro Ballan in the background) to win the 2012 Tour of Flanders.
Few people in the sport have been quite as dominant as Marianne Vos. The Dutchwoman has won just about every important race there is to win, but it took her until 2013 before she could add the Tour of Flanders to her palmares. She had previously managed two third places (in 2007 and 2011) and a second in 2010. In this shot she is seen winning ahead of Ellen van Dijk and Emma Johansson.
Ever since the finish of the Tour of Flanders was moved and the Muur removed from the course, it’s been the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg (pictured here) that have served as the final climbs in the race.
The moment the 2013 Tour of Flanders was won. Fabian Cancellara had softened Peter Sagan up on the Oude Kwaremont and on the Paterberg he punched hard, gapping Sagan as the top of the climb approached. He rounded the corner with only about 10 metres on Sagan, but it was enough for the former world time trial champion who soloed to a comprehensive victory.
Cancellara now has two Flanders victories beside his name — 2010 and 2013 — and goes into the 2014 edition as a red-hot favourite.
This is an updated and refreshed version of a post we first published in 2013.