Flanders Fans

These are the offcuts of a piece which is published here by the wonderful people at Always Riding. After shooting the race on Molenberg and at Haaghoek I made the short hop up to the N8 to see the race as it moved from the ‘north east’ end of the course to the serious stuff in the south (Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg and so on).

“Just off the N8” seems to be a way of describing more or less anywhere in Belgium, but on this particular stretch of the road, between Oudenaarde and Brakel (you know, just past the Roman brewery) lies In Den Trap Op. A small bar with a TV in and some scruffy old cycling jerseys – Mapei and rainbow, all signed) in the billiard room.

Out the back of the Trap is a big car park, which had become the parking ground for some old fire trucks and 50-60 exuberant youths (oh yes). The soundtrack to this shot was something like Sweet Home Alabama and the time not much past 1230…

Fans gather for the Tour of Flanders for elite women at Oudenaarde, Belgium, on 3 April 2016. (Andrew Peat)

As the race came through we all moved out to the front of the bar to watch it come through.

A Jupiler bottle rests on a roadsign before the Tour of Flanders at Oudenaarde, Belgium, on 3 April 2016. (Andrew Peat)

Which it did, but far too quickly, then the Jupiler and megaphones were wheeled back to the car park as a pirate offered me free food and drink from his school bus (“Sorry I’ve got to get down to the finish”).

Fans gather for the Tour of Flanders for elite women at Oudenaarde, Belgium, on 3 April 2016. (Andrew Peat)

Fans gather for the Tour of Flanders for elite women at Oudenaarde, Belgium, on 3 April 2016. (Andrew Peat)Fans gather for the Tour of Flanders for elite women at Oudenaarde, Belgium, on 3 April 2016. (Andrew Peat)

Scooting back to Oudenaarde for the women’s finish I was there just in time to see the surely inevitable (right?) Lizzie win, get some shots for the team…

competes in the Tour of Flanders for elite women at Oudenaarde, Belgium, on 3 April 2016. (Andrew Peat)…then head back up to the Trap to see what was going on.

Fans gather for the Tour of Flanders for elite women at Oudenaarde, Belgium, on 3 April 2016. (Andrew Peat)

Fans gather for the Tour of Flanders for elite women at Oudenaarde, Belgium, on 3 April 2016. (Andrew Peat)

There was a race as well, apparently the men were allowed to have a go afterwards, but that’s all just the backdrop to the biggest day in the Flemish social calendar.

Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) wears the World Tour leader's jersey as she follows world champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boel-Dolmans) to the start of  the Tour of Flanders for elite women at Oudenaarde, Belgium, on 3 April 2016. (Andrew Peat)

Andy