Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne preview

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2013 logo

After Omloop Het Nieuwsblad today (Saturday), Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne tomorrow (Sunday) completes the opening weekend of racing in Belgium. A race which has a less challenging parcours than its precursor, it is one in which we should see a battle between some of the best sprinters in the pro peloton.

What kind of race is it?

Perhaps not quite as prestigious as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, K-B-K has run 65 times since its inaugural edition in 1945. As the name would suggest, it is run on a looped course starting and ending in Kuurne. But, surprisingly, it never actually reaches Brussels before turning back towards the finish.

Usually one for the sprinters – as shown by Mark Cavendish‘s victory last year – they are still required to be able to haul themselves over some tough hellingen, or hills, with the majority of them taken in over the second half of the course. This has enabled some Classics specialists to mix it with the fastest riders over the years, with George Hincapie and Nick Nuyens among the winners in recent editions.

The slightly different parcours means the start-list alters slightly from the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, though several riders who are riding Omloop will be given a second long, cold, cobbled ride a day later. Lucky them.

The most recent winners of the race are:

2008: Steven de Jongh (Quick Step)

2009: Tom Boonen (Quick Step)

2010: Bobbie Traksel (Vacansoleil)

2011: Chris Sutton (Sky)

2012: Mark Cavendish (Sky)

What happened last year?

Mark Cavendish took his first European victory at Sky after sprinting to success following a strong ride from the British outfit. They reeled in a talented breakaway group which contained the in-form Tom Boonen and other strong classics men Gert Steegmans, Tyler FarrarJohan Vansummeren and the team’s own Juan Antonio Flecha.

After the break was caught, Sky controlled the race, and after being released by lead-out man Chris Sutton – who had won this race a year earlier – Cavendish characteristically surged to the line to take a comfortable win. FDJ’s Yauheni Hutarovich managed an impressive second place, while Kenny van Hummel of Vacansoleil rounded out the podium.

1. Mark Cavendish (Sky) 4:27:20

2. Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ-BigMat) same time

3. Kenny van Hummel (Vacansoleil-DCM) s/t

4. Arnaud Demare (FDJ-BigMat) s/t

5. Alexander Serebryakov (Type 1-Sanofi) s/t

6. Tom Veelers (1t4i) s/t

7. Sebastien Chavanel (Europcar) s/t

8. Stefan Van Dijk (Accent.jobs-Willems Veranda’s) s/t

9. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) s/t

10. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) s/t

Our 2012 race review can be found here.

This year’s race

The K-B-K route features eight climbs, with the majority occurring after the race has switched back towards the finish in Kuurne. There are seven in the space of around 60km from just before the halfway mark including some tough, cobbled climbs, some of which feature in the Tour of Flanders later in the season.

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne parcours 2012

However, the final climb of the day comes with over 50km remaining, so even if the peloton is shredded over these climbs, it is likely it will come together in time for a sprint victory.

Who to watch

(Image courtesy of OPQS)

Can Cavendish repeat his 2012 win? (Image courtesy of OPQS)

Last year’s winner, Mark Cavendish, is back, and arguably has the chance to test his Omega Pharma-Quick Step train truly competitively for the first time – though I’m sure the Tour of Qatar organisers won’t thank me for saying that! [You’re right, though – Ed.] He must be the favourite for this race, and looks in good shape.

His old nemesis Andre Greipel of Lotto-Belisol will probably provide his toughest competition, especially as teammate Tom Boonen will not ride after his efforts on Saturday at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) is a good sprinter, though never seems to quite deliver when it matters.

Heinrich Haussler (IAM) will be riding on both Saturday and Sunday, and while he’s good in the Classics and a fast finisher, he probably doesn’t have the out-and-out sprint power to challenge Cavendish or Greipel here. Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Adam Blythe (BMC) are both rank outsiders.

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne takes place on Sunday 24th February. The race will be shown live on Eurosport. For other live coverage check cyclingfans.com.

Link: Official website

Tweets of the Week: Fashion, fishing and Phinney (of course)

Funny, cruel, odd, personal … you get it all on Twitter. Each week, we’ll have a rundown of some of our favourite tweets. Here are the tweets for the week ending 7th October 2012.

Hey baby, how you doin’?

Chris Froome is quite simply overshadowed by the sartorially superior Bernie Eisel in this picture. In fact, I didn’t even realise Froome Dog was in the picture until I read the caption. I don’t know where the Ladies’ Favourite is going, but I’d like to tag along …

And here is a random picture of Adam Blythe with the newly anointed King of the World and … some guy who looks like he just stumbled into the picture.

Everyone together … “Awwwwwwww, isn’t he lovely?” Personally, I’d opt for Quinziato any day. But then I’m an #AllDayFloozy so I would say that.

I usually avoid the subject of feet – and I especially avoid any pictures of feet as I have an abnormal aversion to them. Why? Who knows? Possibly because of my Amish upbringing. However, I thought big Andre‘s caption was so endearing that I had to just get over the subject matter and post it up. “Make my feets feeling comfortable” – Greipelese? (BTW, have you guys noticed how we haven’t had any Fabianese for, like, EVER … I miss Fabs. *sigh of despair*)

JV lands a real catch

Some men find themselves naked and tied to a lamppost on the morning of their wedding – Jonathan Vaughters finds himself in the middle of a lake with a large fish. He always has been a bit of a maverick. He got married on Sunday and all of us at VeloVoices wish him all the best for the future. Cos he’s okay, is Vaughters.

Speaking of weddings, what a lovely nuptial portrait of the Kreuzigers. In answer to TourDeJose’s question, I think Mrs K is more than a giant, she’s an Amazon.

Bossin’ Monaco

No doubt I’m going to get grief putting this in, as Alexandre Vinokourov really divides opinion. But it’s my column and I can do what I want. Anyway, Vino and a bunch of his friends, including King of the World (who looks surprised by something!) and Nibblets rode around Monaco like they owned the place – it was Vino’s final race before he retires to go rule Kazakhstan.

Love this pic of MiniVinos (sounds like something you’d get in the freezer cabinet, no?). [I thought they were just small bottles of wine? – Ed.] Aren’t they adorable?

Is there room in your wardrobe for irony?

This was a subject that got started, I think, during the World Championships, when we were all deciding that the Belgian team kit was the best of the bunch. There was some questioning as to if any of us would wear it out for a ride, though. Personally, I’m not wild about seeing the maillot jaune or the rainbow stripes on anyone other than those who have earned them, but team jerseys I don’t have a problem with. (So obviously the subject is decided now.) But what about those disgraced jerseys? The debate raged … (Wait till you see the picture at the end)

Bringing out our best China

It’s Phinney time! I love this boy. LOVE this boy. Have I ever mentioned that? [Nah, first I’ve heard of it – Ed.]

However, China tweet of the week goes to Scott from @velocast because this made me laugh and laugh and laugh. Out loud. (Poor Andy …)

And that’s all from Floozy Fondue – until next week, tweeties!

Tour of Belgium review

Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) announced his return to competition and fine form by taking the five-stage Tour of Belgium. He won stage four’s individual time trial in a fashion befitting the current wearer of the rainbow jersey in this discipline, took the leader’s red jersey and maintained his lead with a flourish in the final queen stage.

After taking three consecutive sprint stages, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) [aping Sagan – Ed] won the sprints jersey, most combative rider was Colombian Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), Pieter Serry (Topsport-Vlaanderen Mercator) was best young rider, while RusVelo were top team. Continue reading