What's Cool In Road Cycling

Moser & Baldato Remember Flanders

Francesco Moser, classics god from the ’80’s, and Fabio Baldato aspiring god of the present, both remember past battles at Flanders.

It’s been 22 years since the last time, but the memory of having lost the Flanders 2 times, for him the winner of 3 consecutive Paris-Roubaix, makes him feel disgusted. Stories of yesterday, of others times, when in the Ronde you found Koppenberg, majestic and terrible, and the Belgian riders became devils and they were ready to risk everything for win the race of the life. Now the wall – a symbol of suffering – returns more human, even though its 623 metres of pavи are at 11% average slope.

“But when I raced it was a trap. We fought – says Moser, which at the time he was under 30 years old – to stay ahead: if you faced it in the first 5 you had a hope to do it, otherwise you’d just get off your bike, and go on foot”. He came close to a victory a first time in 1976, but lost to Belgians Planckaert and Demeyer, and again in 1980, when he lost a sprint with Pollentier. “If I played better my sprint with Pollentier and Raas maybe I could have won it. But with Planckaert, I could not win anyway – he was too fast. But there has been another time when I ran really fast, but one mechanic, stopped to change a wheel, and ran over me on the Bosberg. On those roads narrow and steep it’s easy get stuck in a traffic jam. One time Verbeeck tried to pull up with a motorcycle in the race, by noldingon and being dragged behind, but he kicked the bike on me. I’ve still on my leg the mark of his gear: a Koppenberg’s souvenir”.

The dream of the walls of Flanders is still alive for Fabio Baldato, 2nd for two consecutives years , in ’95 and ’96, when he wore the jersey of MG Technogym. And he is still thinking also of Roubaix ’94 and Milan-Sanremo 2000. He hopes to again be a protagonist, for the nth time in the races of the North. For both, in every case, winning Flanders remains a dream. “The biggest bitterness has been at the first time” – remembers Baldato, 33 years old, in his 12th season as pro. I escaped alone, after an attack on a piece of pavи at 45 kms from the finish. Museeuw caught me on the Berendiers, and he surged again on the Grammont, and he won. Only he that year could do something like that. I just won the sprint with Tchmil for 2nd place. A year later, Bartoli attacked at about same place. And I was in his same team, so I did a race of waiting, and I won the sprint of the group”. A situation which we maybe see next Sunday, because Bartoli is again his team mate in the Fassa Bortolo of Giancarlo Ferretti. “The Quaremont is always a good place to attack” – finishes Baldato. “It’s there where you can understand who can win Flanders. You must stay ahead and fight. I don’t want to think of the victory, sometimes more you follow a race and it’s more difficult to win it. I will be happy also to arrive second behind Bartoli. Another time, why not?”.

Source: Gazzetta dello Sport

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