What's Cool In Road Cycling

Lotto Belisol: VIP driver Eric Vanderaerden about his victory in Tour of Flanders 1985

Eric Vanderaerden, winner of the Tour of Flanders in 1985, is for the third year in a row VIP driver with Lotto-Belisol. Next Sunday he will drive a minibus with guests over the Flemish roads. The perfect opportunity to watch back on his win, 29 years ago, and also to let him talk about his work as VIP driver.

The race report
Rain was one of the protagonists in the Tour of Flanders in 1985. While the sky colored grey, the race was lively as never before. Vanderaerden played a key role. The Belgian champion had a flat tyre a few kilometers before the Koppenberg. After a change of wheel he climbed back on his bike. His chase on the Koppenberg is one of the most iconic images in the Tour of Flanders archive. Vanderaerden stayed on his bike and made his way through the riders that climbed the hill on foot. With 25 kilometers to go, Vanderaerden jumped away to go to look for Hennie Kuiper, leader in the race. Phil Anderson closed the gap on Eric and they both joined Kuiper just before the Muur van Geraardsbergen. On the Muur Eric headed for a solo 18 kilometers before the finish in Meerbeke. There the 23-year-old could put his hands in the air. It was his first classic win.

“The weather was in my favour”
Eric Vanderaerden: “The 1985 edition is still the last edition with such heavy weather conditions. On that day, the weather was in my favour. Unfortunately I had a puncture just before the Koppenberg. If the weather would have been dry, the speed on that climb would have been higher. So I was lucky that I could do my thing on the Koppenberg. I stayed on my bike and could come back in the race.”

“After my attack on the Muur it was still 18 kilometers to the finish in Meerbeke. On that particular moment you’re not really thinking a lot. You’re just hoping that you won’t have a flat tyre again, because that would have been fatal. I wanted to be in Meerbeke as fast as possible. Obviously because then the win was ensured, but I was also soaked after a long and wet day. Even when I passed the finish line I still didn’t realize what I had achieved.”

“Each year the story is brought up again. Once you win the Ronde, you’ll stay always a bit of a hero in Flanders. When the buzz around the Tour of Flanders starts I’m of course often reminded of my win. But I like to share and tell the story to others. It is one of my biggest wins. It stands on the same level as my Paris-Roubaix win, two years later, and the stage win on the Champs-Elysées in the 1984 Tour de France.”

VIP driver
For the third year in a row Eric Vanderaerden is VIP driver with Lotto Belisol. He drives guests to the best places on the track of a race for about 50 to 65 days a year. And in that way he makes sure his guests have an unforgettable day with Lotto Belisol.

Eric Vanderaerden: “Together with the guests we discuss which places we’ll go to along the route to see the riders . I can rely on my experience to try and fulfill the wishes of the guests. Before the start of the Tour of Flanders, the guests have breakfast together with the riders. The guests get really involved with the Lotto Belisol team. During Gent-Wevelgem I was VIP driver and together with the guests I was watching the final on a TV screen. When Greipel crashed we all shared in disappointment. For the drivers there is obviously less stress during a race, we don’t have to perform. We do have to please the guests. For me it’s enjoyable to be still active in the cycling world.”

Watch the images of the memorable victory of Eric Vanderaerden in the Tour of Flanders 1985: https://www.sporza.be/permalink/1.964729

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