13 Years Later

It’s 2001.
He knew the names by heart.
Peter Post, Jan Janssen, Jan Raas, Hennie Kuiper.
Then he was there, in the front group.
He attacked and got away.
Looked back and could not believe it.
He saw nothing behind him.
Not even Johan Museeuw could catch him.
He entered the Vélodrome solo.
He was the only rider who heard the bell.
He crossed the finish line all by himself.
Servais Knaven. The fifth Dutch winner of Paris-Roubaix.

It’s the 13th of April 2014.
13 years later.
He attacked and got away.
Looked back and could not believe it.
There was nothing but dust behind him.
Not even Fabian Cancellara was in his wheel.
He entered the Vélodrome all by himself.
They rang the bell just for him.
He crossed the finish line solo.
He smiled and cried at the same time.
Niki Terpstra, the new Dutch winner.
He loves Roubaix. We all do.

Niki Terpstra Paris-Roubaix 2014 Niki Terpstra wins the 2014 edition of Paris-Roubaix / © Tim De Waele

Creations #14

10 AVATARSMemories & First Part of 2014


8 WALLPAPERSMemories & Mountains


Ambroos, The Donkey

The semi-classics Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne represent the opening of the cycling season in Belgium. They belong together like salt and pepper: they are connected in speculations about possible winners, predictions of start lists, and mostly have the same weather conditions. Moreover, when a rider starts in the first race, it is not sure yet if he will also start the day after. Also, when the first race ends, we almost instantly shift our attention to the second race. Riders have barely finished, or they have to say whether they will start the next morning as well or leave their spot to one of their teammates. Until now, no one was able to win both races in one year.

In 2013, there was no traditional Belgian opening weekend because Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne could not take place. There was simply too much snow on the roads. This meant that we also did not get to see Ambroos. Ambroos? Yes, Kuurne’s very own mascot is a donkey with the name Ambroos. The citizens of Kuurne are called “donkeys”. This name was given to them by the people of Kortrijk, a nearby city. Kuurne used to be “Kortrijk’s vegetable garden” back in the days. It was a tradition for Kuurne traders to set off to the market in Kortrijk very early with their carts full of vegetables. More importantly, these carts were all drawn by asses. Obviously, the inhabitants of Kortrijk would wake up because of the noises these carts and asses made so early in the day. In Kortrijk it then became very common to say at that particular time in the morning: “It’s those asses from Kuurne again!”

The Ambroos design for Kuurne by Nesten / © Kuurne.be

But according to another tale, the name has a different origin. A priest in Kuurne asked the sacrister to take over his usual service, because he had to hold a funeral. But the sacrister could not recall the Latin words “Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris”, which in English means “Remember, man, that dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return”. He was supposed to say this when he had to give the people “a cross of ash” on their foreheads. Obviously, the priest was very annoyed with this and exclaimed: “You were born an ass, and you will die an ass!” The sacrister then answered: “Aha, I’ll remember that!” and continued to give the inhabitants of Kuurne their crosses of ash.

Consequently, the winner of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne receives the toy version of Ambroos, a donkey statue that is located in front of Kuurne’s town hall. The statue was designed by the Belgian cartoonist Nesten. The name is most likely based on a poem by Hugo Claus, a very famous Belgian writer, about a donkey called Ambroos. It is not unusual for riders to receive such a special gift – besides flowers – during the podium ceremony. However, it is more common for riders to receive a special delicacy from the area than a donkey or a soft toy horse, which the winner of Dwars Door Vlaanderen gets nowadays. In the past, riders for example received lots of cheese, a basket full of food and drinks, or had to drink a glass of beer. Also, in the Basque Country, riders often get to wear a traditional “beret” on stage. When they are really lucky, riders might even take a brand new care home. Obviously, most riders prefer a cheque.

Chris Sutton (SKY) wins the Kuurne donkey in 2011 / © Linearecta.be

Last year’s special gift in the Arctic Tour of Norway beats all the former presents. Former Belgian professional rider Stijn Neirynck received a piece of land - worth 25.000 euros – in Tjeldsund to build a house on. The peloton became very excited about the intermediate sprint that would guarantee this prize. However, the organization let the winner know afterwards that the piece of land could not be sold by him. The winner had to build a house there or the prize could not be awarded. A pity for Neirynck, who had just bought a house in his home country and wanted to sell the land in Norway and share the money with his teammates. Then a soft toy donkey does not seem so bad at all. After all, the winner of the 2014 version of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne could make his son or daughter, his niece or nephew, or a teammate’s kid very happy with it.

The Taaienberg

27 February 2014

This year the cycling season starts on the 1st day of March.
The 67th edition of the Omloop het Nieuwsblad – still called Het Volk
by most people – will lead us from the streets of Ghent to the beautiful characteristic roads of Belgium and then eventually back to Ghent again.
In the upcoming edition we will see the Leberg, Hostellerie, the illustrious Muur van Geraardsbergen, followed by the Valkenberg, Kruisberg, Taaienberg, Eikenberg, Wolvenberg, the Leberg once more, and the Molenberg.
Besides the famous Muur van Geraardsbergen, the Taaienberg
has also become quite a monumental part of the Spring classics.
According to the classics specialist and sprinter Tom Boonen,
the best place where a rider can be on the Taaienberg is at the front.
And so it has become a tradition over the past few years that Boonen
attacks there to “try the legs” and to “check out the competition”.
Every time the riders reach the Taaienberg, many fans
expect that Tornado Tom will create another storm.

The Taaienberg in Belgium / © Cycling.be

This year it will be the 12th start in the Omloop for the 33-year-old.
Not one of the other Omloop het Volk participants is as experienced
as Boonen in what is regarded as the official opening race of the season.
But he has already been presented with quite a few intense warm-up races.
He started off 2014 with the Tour de San Luis, the Tour of Qatar
and the renewed Tour of Oman, which means 19 race days in total.
However, he says he feels good, won two stages in the Tour of Qatar and also
managed to win the points classification. In the final classification
he only had to leave his teammate Niki Terpstra before him.
The “races in the sand” always suit the OPQS-rider well.
He has won an amount of 22 stages in Qatar over the past few years.
Though, last year marked one of the worst times of his career.
Due to multiple accidents and injuries in the first part of the season he was unable to win a race. Then when he finally managed to fight himself back to the top level, a cyste got in the way of his dreams for the rest of 2013. His only victory was in the Tour de Wallonnie in July where he won the second stage.

Tom Boonen attacks on his Taaienberg in 2012 / © Kramon

This year obviously signifies a fresh start for Boonen.
And there are still a few challenging records that he could beat.
A fourth victory in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and a fifth victory in
Paris-Roubaix would make Tom Boonen the new recordholder of the most
prestigious Spring classics. Right now Boonen shares the Ronde record
with Achiel Buysse, Fiorenzo Magni, Eric Leman and Johan Museeuw.
The Gypsy, Roger de Vlaeminck, is the one he currently shares the Paris-
Roubaix record with. But Tom Boonen does not think about those records.
His main focus is to start the races in good shape and be at his best on
the way to the finish. We will probably see “Tommeke”, as his fans call him,
show off his skills on the Taaienberg next Saturday. If the Taaienberg had a race of its own, Boonen would have been – without a doubt – the single recordholder.
So according to tradition, the Taaienberg will be the “Boonenberg” again for a few minutes this Saturday. Then the season has finally started.

Koen de Kort’s 2012 reconnaissance of the Taaienberg

12 Days Of Christmas

♫ OGEROCKS – 12 Days Of Christmas 

“On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
twelve guitars rocking, eleven women racing, ten supporters screaming,
nine foil frames, eight sprinters sprinting, seven new signings, six directors
dancing, five golden wins, four yellow jerseys, three French hens,
two British twins, and a bus stuck under a gantry.

Australia | www.youtube.com/GreenEdgeCycling | Melbourne 2013

The Argonauts

17 September 2013

It has been a successful year so far for Argos-Shimano.
The Dutch WorldTour Team managed to win four stages in the
Tour de France with the talented German sprinter Marcel Kittel.
Their spectacular lead-out train impressed viewers around the world
and the final victory on the Champs-Élysées was the icing on the cake.
Despite the fact that the Tour de France is one of the most important races
of the season, the Argos-Shimano team has showed itself all the year round.
They did not ‘just’ came, saw, and conquered in the Tour de France, they were
not ‘just’ lucky and they were not ‘just’ profiting from other riders’ flaws either.
In fact, many years of research and dedication have started to pay off now.
Although Argos-Shimano is known for their expertise in the field of sprinting,
they do not simply close their eyes when it comes to the mountains.
They also slowly develop their experiences in the field of climbing
and aim at training talented (young) riders that could end up
at a good spot in the general classifications of (grand) tours.
Warren Barguil, who turns 22 in October, has just managed to win
two stages in the Vuelta a España in his first year as a professional rider.
Last week, the young climber from France won the 13th and 16th stage.
He became a trainee in 2012 and the team recognized his climbing potential.
Obviously, the Dutch team also focuses on the progress of Dutch talent.
Tom Dumoulin, for example, has shown his potential several times this year.
The Argos-Shimano rider was on the podium at the Dutch Championships,
became 2nd in the Eneco Tour, and showed himself several times in the Tour.
As a result of this, he gets to ride the World Championships this year.
Argos-Shimano gave these young talents the confidence to start a career.
But it is not only these exceptional talents that mark the success of the team.
Experienced riders like Koen de Kort are of great importance as well.
Mostly, the riders behind the ‘stars’ are the stable factors within the team.
So what is the secret behind this team besides talent, expertise, and dedication?
The photo below says it all: teammate Koen de Kort gave away his sprinter
John Degenkolb to his bride Laura at their wedding earlier on this year.
They do not only ‘lead out’ professionally, but also privately.
Team spirit. The Argonauts know what counts most.

© Instagram Koen de Kort

Photos Eneco Tour 2013

Eneco Tour 2013 / 16 August / Stage 5 – ITT Sittard-Geleen

This year Sittard-Geleen hosted a stage again in the Eneco Tour. The fifth stage of the WorldTour race was a 13,2 kilometres long time trial. Tom Dumoulin (ARG) secured the second best time at the end of the day and Jesse Sergent (RLT) the third best time. However, it was Sylvain Chavanel (OPQ) who won the time trial. One of the time trial favorites, Bradley Wiggins (SKY), became fifth, whereas time trial talent Taylor Phinney (BMC) secured the sixth place.

Arnaud Démare (FDJ) won the second stage from Ardooie to Vorst in this year’s Eneco Tour. Consequently, he got to wear the leader’s jersey for two days. The first stage from Koksijde to Ardooie was won by Mark Renshaw (BEL) and the third stage from Oosterhout to the Brouwersdam was won by Zdenek Stybar (OPQ). In the fourth stage from Essen to Vlijmen, Démare lost his jersey to Lars Boom (BEL), who won the stage with finish in his hometown Vlijmen.

The 24-year-old Belgian rider Laurens De Vreese (TSV) attacked several times in the first stages of the Eneco Tour and this resulted in the top position in the most combative rider competition. After 7 stages, he earned 66 points, which was almost twice as much as the number two, Mathew Hayman (SKY), and the number three, Pieter Jacobs (TSV). On top of that, Lars Boom (BEL) won the points jersey and the RadioShack – Leopard team was the best in the teams classification after 7 stages through Belgium and The Netherlands.

As said before, Sylvain Chavanel (OPQ) was the fastest rider in the ITT. After 7 stages, Sylvain Chavanel’s teammate Zdenek Stybar became the winner of the Eneco Tour. He won the final stage from Tienen to Geraardsbergen. The sixth stage, from Riemst to La Redoute (Aywaille) was won by David Lopez (SKY). It was the talented rider from Argos-Shimano, Tom Dumoulin, who became second in the WorldTour race. Andriy Grivko (AST) secured the third position.