Over the weekend, we in Seattle kicked off the cycling season with the annual Chilly Hilly. While it’s always hilly on Bainbridge Island, this year the event lived up to its “chilly” moniker. Those of us working the finish line (which consisted of bouncing in-place to stay warm) heard tales of snow — and even slush at times — on the route. True, it was cold, perhaps the coldest on record, but the smiles and kind words from cheerful riders warmed our hearts.
Meanwhile on Saturday, some 4,900 miles around the globe, another chilly cycling season kicked off in Belgium with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. (Shout out to local racer Tyler Farrar who came in third last year and caught fourth in the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday.) I caught the Omloop highlights, which included a fantastic finish.
After a series of race mishaps, Rabobank’s Sebastian Lageveld, kop van de wedstrijd*, gets a break at ~27km to go. Team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha (and the 2010 winner) hot is on his tail some 30′ back, with the actervolgers** another 1’44″ back. With 16km to go, you can see Lageveld soft pedaling a bit — having a snack even — glancing over his shoulder every few seconds as he waits on Flecha to close the gap.
At 5km from the finish with two minutes over the actervolgers, these guys have plenty of time on their hands for a showdown.
Wow, what a finish! Still… it’s no Kille Heuvelachtige***.
*race leader **followers ***Chilly Hilly, roughly