Dwars Door Vlaanderen – Holy Week Race #3

The morning of the race was once again very misty and cold – and once again I was glad to have my winter coat and even put on my woolly hat before going for a walk.
Just down the hill below us was the beautiful town of Russeignies – I walked most of the way down before turning back. The small road was actually pretty steep and I was glad I wasn’t going to have to ride a bike up it – twice.
The farmers around here have also fertilized their fields, although the smell had started to dissipate a bit – not quite so pungent anymore. Our dutch neighbour had been busy last evening – he’d painted the name of his favourite rider every thirty feet or so up and down the road – Matje van der Poel.
Just above us around a couple of bends was a very deja-vu experience for me. I walked up – stopping along the way to chat with a local – and after rounding the bend, turning right and along a straight bit, then another right I wondered if I was if I was in the twilight zone.
I passed a cafe, then chose to get off the road and behind the barriers towards a VIP setup. As I approached I heard them testing the speaker system by reading the menu for the day – stuffed potatoes, chilli-con-carne, something with aubergines. And then a guy on a moto stopped and asked me if I knew where the kitchen was.
That was whenI looked across the road and saw a beautiful brick house with thatched roof and thought ‘wow – that looks a lot like the one I saw and took a photo of last Friday – what are the chances of having a cafe next to a VIP tent across the road from a thatched-roof brick house?’. Of course it was the same place we’d been to last week for E3 BinkcBank, but we’d gone down so many small winding roads and gotten completely turned around and hadn’t realized we were that close.
By the time I returned to the campervan there were another two cars parked in front and behind us, and more people walking up from the village below – it’s a popular hill.
The women’s race was late arriving – apparently there’d been a huge crash early on and they actually had to halt the men’s race to prevent them from overtaking the ladies.
I chose what I thought was the perfect spot on an inside corner, but the cars came so close to me as they rounded the corner that I was in danger of getting run over, even though I was on the grass and not the pavement.
I crossed the road for the second pass and felt slightly safer, although still put a lot of faith in the drivers staying on the road.
Once the men had passed for the second time we retreated into the campervan to watch the end of the race on tv.
The dutch man’s road writing must have worked – the breakaway did not get caught and van der Poel won in a thrilling sprint to the finish. Big smiles and thumbs-up from our neighbours. The photo I took of him shows the eventual winner as he had just ridden over his name on the road.

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