Ed Hood loves the Tour, the ‘6 Days’ of Gent, and the cyclo-cross in Koksijde, but where he’s happiest is at a Kermis in Belgium – beer, frites, and bike racing. Sunday he watched the Tour final in Paris – Monday it was Westrozebeke.
Like our amigo, pro photog, Wessel van Keuk says; ‘there are big bicycle races and then there’s the Tour de France . . .
After all the hype, creds, gendarmes, too cool for school journos and hand to hand combat with wi-fi connections what a man really needs is – a kermis.
And he won here last year in this 64th Grote Prijs Raf Jonckheere over 16 laps of a 10.25 kilometre circuit.
And we have two World Tour riders in there; Jonas Vangenechten for Lotto and former Ronde winner, Nick Nuyens for Garmin plus a big squad from Pro Continental Topsport Vlaanderen.
Vangenechten’s name might not be well known to you but he won the GP Pino Cerami last year and was runner up this year; he also won in Gullegem this year beating rapid Quick-Step man – and recent Tour of Wallonia winner – Gianni Meersman.
Lithuania, Korea, Paraguay, Ireland and – Mexico were all represented with the latter’s Castillo Sotto by no means making a fool of himself.
Mexico has produced some good riders over the years, the best known being Tour de France stage winner, Raul Alcala who also won the Clasica San Sebastian during his long career.
Hailing from the Piedboeuf Brewery (Brasserie Piedboeuf) in Jupille-sur-Meuse Belgium; Jupiler is owned by the massive Anheuser–Busch InBev and it’s the best selling beer in Belgium – we’ve certainly bought plenty, over the years.
As the road riders’ programmes ease back, the winter boards guys’ ramp up.
And now our Korean boy is in the mix with Topsport; Hyeong Min Choe was second on GC in the Tour of Korea this year behind Britain’s Hugh Carthy; that race is UCI 2.1 so he’s not just here to make up the numbers.
Pro Continental team Wanty-Groupe Goubert have Frederique Robert here; he’s been with both Quick-Step and Lotto and was a multiple Belgian junior track champion before moving on to become a prolific U23 winner on the road – but he’s never landed a ‘big one.’
He’s looking back here to see if anyone is coming up, he was second here in 2012 and will fancy his chances.
But kermises ebb and flow and what looks like the winning move can be washed away in a lap if the chemistry (and financial wrangling) in the break don’t work out.
Nick Nuyens is an enigma; second in the Ronde as a junior then third as a U23 before winning in that category in 2002 – the year he was Belgian U23 National Champion – he was second in the Elite Ronde in 2008 for Cofidis before winning it for Saxo Bank in 2011.
He was originally a Quick-Step man but left the team because he didn’t want to play second fiddle to Boonen – but season 2011 apart, when he won Dwars Door and de Ronde for Bjarne Riis – his best years were with Patrick Lefevre.
He closed season 2004 winning Paris-Brussels and opened it winning Het Volk in 2005 then took Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in 2006 before he moved to Cofidis, then Rabobank, then Saxo and now Garmin.
He’s been winless for three seasons but still does the job – with four hours in a kermis preferable to a five hour solo training slog.
Dave’s a mayo man but I go for Andoulouse – mayo with tomato and peppers.
As expected, it’s Topsport who triumph, they’ve controlled the race all day and their first year pro Edward Theuns is way too quick for everyone – a good pursuit and time trial rider he was third in the Handzame Classic to Giro final stage winner, Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano & Slovenia) earlier in the year.
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,100 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.