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De Ronde Van Vlaanderen

A Brief History of The Tour of Flanders

De Ronde van Vlaanderen (The Tour of Flanders) was the inspiration of cyclist Karel Van Wijnendaele (pictured right). In 1912 Van Wijnendaele, following little success as a cyclist, became one of the creators of the sports newspaper Sportwereld. This gave him the opportunity to organise and publicise a bicycle race himself and de Ronde Van Vlaanderen was born.

In the Beginning...
The race was first run in 1913 over a distance of 330km (much further than the modern day races) and was not an immediate success - it had only 37 competitors. The 1914 edition of the race attracted only 10 competitors. The race then had to be abandoned during the war years of 1915 - 1918 and the 3rd edition of the race wasn't run until 1919. Perseverance paid off however and the success and popularity of the Tour of Flanders grew until it is now one of he most prestigious races on the professional calendar. It has been held every year since 1919 including the years during the Second World War.

The Race Route
The Tour of Flanders is characterised by its series of climbs (16 in the 2002 edition) during the second half of the race. The climbs are not long but are often very steep and narrow. These short, sharp climbs can quickly drain the strength from the riders legs as they encounter the first of them after already covering around 150km. Although the roads leading up to the hilly section are generally flat, the riders can normally expect some fairly strong winds to impede their progress. And with little distance between each climb, the riders get little opportunity to recover sufficiently after each climb.

Due to the narrow roads, riders must make sure they're positioned near the front of the peleton at the bottom of the climbs. This often keeps the speed of the race very high leading up to each climb with the resulting increase in danger as many riders try to move forward and those at the front try to hold their place there. In addition to the steep gradients, many of the climbs are on cobbled roads which require much more effort to ascend. Riders must be careful to avoid collisions on the rough surfaces as they move around in search of the smoothest line on the road and their bikes are thrown around on the very rough and narrow roads. The cobbles also become extremely slippery when wet and at times, just keeping the bike upright is a challenge.

Belgian Dominance
The race has been won by Belgians on 56 occasions out of the 86 times it has been run. Dutch riders have won the race 10 times and Italians have won 8. Four riders have each won the Tour of Flanders 3 times: Belgians Achiel Buysse (1940, 1941, 1943), Eric Leman (1970, 1972, 1973) and Johan Museeuw (1993, 1995, 1998). Italian Fiorenzo Magni won on three consecutive occasions (1949 1950, 1951).

Past Winners

Year First Second Third
2001 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Erik Dekker (Ned) Denis Zanette (Ita)
2000 Andrei Tchmil (Bel) Dario Pieri (Ita) Romans Vainsteins (Lat)
1999 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Johan Museeuw (Bel)
1998 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Stefano Zanini (Ita) Andrei Tchmil (Bel)
1997 Rolf Sörensen (Den) Frédéric Moncassin (Fra) Franco Ballerini (Ita)
1996 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fabio Baldato (Ita) Johan Museeuw (Bel)
1995 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Fabio Baldato (Ita) Andrei Tchmil (Ukr)
1994 Gianni Bugno (Ita) Johan Museeuw (Bel) Andrei Tchmil (Ukr)
1993 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Franz Maassen (Ned) David Bottaro (Ita)
1992 Jacky Durand (Fra) Thomas Wegmuller (Swi) Edwig Van Hooydonck (Bel)
1991 Edwig Van Hooydonck (Bel) Johan Museeuw (Bel) Rolf Sörensen (Den)
1990 Moreno Argentin (Ita) Rudy Dhaenens (Bel) John Talen (Ned)
1989 Edwig Van Hooydonck (Bel) Herman Frison (Bel) Dag Otto Lauritzen Nor)
1988 Eddy Planckaert (Bel) Phil Anderson (Aust) Adri Van Der Poel (Ned)
1987 Claude Criquielion (Bel) Sean Kelly (Ire) Eric Vanderaerden (Bel)
1986 Adri Van Der Poel (Ned) Sean Kelly (Ire) Flup Vandenbrande (Bel)
1985 Eric Vanderaerden (Bel) Phil Anderson (Aust) Hennie Kuiper (Ned)
1984 Johan Lammerts (Ned) Sean Kelly (Ire) Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke (Bel)
1983 Jan Raas (Ned) Ludo Peeters (Bel) Marc Sergeant (Bel)
1982 Rene Martens (Bel) Eddie Planckaert (Bel) Rudy Pevenage (Bel)
1981 Hennie Kuiper (Ned) Frits Pirard (Ned) Jan Raas (Ned)
1980 Michel Pollentier (Bel) Francesco Moser (Ita) Jan Raas (Ned)
1979 Jan Raas (Ned) Marc Demeyer (Bel) Daniel Willems (Bel)
1978 Walter Godefroot (Bel) Michel Pollentier (Bel) Greg Braun (Ger)
1977 Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) ** ***
1976 Walter Planckaert (Bel) Francesco Moser (Ita) Marc Demeyer (Bel)
1975 Eddy Merckx (Bel) Frans Verbeeck (Bel) Marc Demeyer (Bel)
1974 Cees Bal (Ned) Frans Verbeeck (Bel) *
1973 Eric Leman (Bel) Freddie Maertens (Bel) Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1972 Eric Leman (Bel) André Dierickx (Bel) Frans Verbeeck (Bel)
1971 Evert Dolman (Ned) F. Kerremans (Bel) Cyril Guimard (Fra)
1970 Eric Leman (Bel) Walter Godefroot (Bel) Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1969 Eddy Merckx (Bel) Felice Gimondi (Ita) Marino Basso (Ita)
1968 Walter Godefroot (Bel) Rudi Altig (Ger) Jan Janssen (Ned)
1967 Dino Zandegu (Ita) Noél Foré (Bel) Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1966 Ward Sels (Bel) Adriano Durante (Ita) Georges Vandenberghe (Bel)
1965 Jo De Roo (Ned) Edward Sels (Bel) Georges Vanconingsloo (Bel)
1964 Rudi Altig (Ger) Benoni Beheyt (Bel) Jo De Roo (Ned)
1963 Noél Foré (Bel) Frans Melckenbeeck (Bel) Tom Simpson (GB)
1962 Rik Van Looy (Bel) Michel Van Aerde (Bel) Norbert Kerckhove (Bel)
1961 Tom Simpson (GB) Nino Defilippis (Ita) Jo De Haan (Ned)
1960 Arthur De Cabooter (Bel) Jean Graczyk (Fra) Ric Van Looy (Bel)
1959 Rik Van Looy (Bel) Frans Schoubben (Bel) Gilbert Desmet (Bel)
1958 Germain Derijcke (Bel) Willy Truye (Bel) Angelo Conterno (Ita)
1957 Fred De Bruyne (Bel) Jos Planckaert (Bel) Norbert Kerckhove (Bel)
1956 Jean Forestier (Fra) Stan Ockers (Bel) Leon Van Daele (Bel)
1955 Louison Bobet (Fra) Hugo Koblet (Swi) Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)
1954 Raymond Impanis (Bel) Francois Mahe (Fra) Alfons Van Den Brande (Bel)
1953 Wim Van Est (Ned) Désiré Keteleer (Bel) Bernard Gauthier (Fra)
1952 Roger Decock (Bel) Loretto Petrucci (Ita) Briek Schotte (Bel)
1951 Fiorenzo Magni (Ita) Bernard Gauthier (Fra) Attilio Redolfi (Fra)
1950 Fiorenzo Magni (Ita) Briek Schotte (Bel) Louis Caput (Fra)
1949 Fiorenzo Magni (Ita) Valére Ollivier (Bel) Briek Schotte (Bel)
1948 Briek Schotte (Bel) Albert Ramon (Bel) Marcel Rijckaert (Bel)
1947 Emiel Faignaert (Bel) René Desmet (Bel) Henri Renders (Bel)
1946 Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel) Louis Thiétard (Fra) Briek Schotte (Bel)
1945 Sylvain Grysolle (Bel) Albert Sercu (Bel) Jos Moerenhout (Bel)
1944 Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel) Briek Schotte (Bel) Jos Moerenhout (Bel)
1943 Achiel Buysse (Bel) Albert Sercu (Bel) K. Beeckman (Bel)
1942 Briek Schotte (Bel) Georges Claes (Bel) Robert Van Eenaeme (Bel)
1941 Achiel Buysse (Bel) Gustaaf Van Overloop (B) O. Vanden Meerschaut (Bel)
1940 Achiel Buysse (Bel) G. Christiaens (Bel) Briek Schotte (Bel)
1939 Karel Kaers (Bel) Romain Maes (Bel) Ward Vissers (Bel)
1938 Edgard De Caluwe (Bel) Sylveer Maes (Bel) Marcel Kint (Bel)
1937 Michel D'Hooghe (Bel) Herman Deltour (Bel) Louis Hardiquest (Bel)
1936 Louis Hardiquest (Bel) Edgard De Caluwe (Bel) Francois Neuville (Bel)
1935 Louis Duerloo (Bel) Eloi Meulenberg (Bel) C. Leemans (Bel)
1934 Gaston Rebry (Bel) Alfons Schepers (Bel) Félicien Vervaecke (Bel)
1933 Alfons Schepers (Bel) Leon Tommies (Bel) Romain Gijssels (Bel)
1932 Romain Gijssels (Bel) Alphonse Deloor (Bel) Alfred Haemerlinck (Bel)
1931 Romain Gijssels (Bel) Cesar Bogaert (Ned) Jean Aerts (Bel)
1930 Frans Bonduel (Bel) Aimé Dossche (Bel) Emile Joly (Bel)
1929 Jef Dervaes (Bel) Georges Ronsse (Bel) Alfred Haemerlinck (Bel)
1928 Jan Mertens (Bel) August Mortelmans (Bel) Louis De Lannoy (Bel)
1927 Gerard Debaets (Bel) G. Van Slembrouck (Bel) M. Dewaele (Bel)
1926 Denis Verschueren (Bel) Gustaaf Van Slembrouck Raymond Decorte (Bel)
1925 Julien Delbecque (Bel) Jef Pé (Bel) Hector Martin (Bel)
1924 Gerard Debaets (Bel) René Vermandel (Bel) Felix Sellier (Bel)
1923 Henri Suter (Swi) Charles De Ruyter (Bel) Albert De Jonghe (Bel)
1922 Leon Devos (Bel) Jean Brunier (Fra) Francis Pelissier (Fra)
1921 Rene Vermandel (Bel) Jules Van Hevel (Bel) Louis Budts (Bel)
1920 Jules Van Hevel (Bel) Albert De Jonghe (Bel) Alfons Van Hecke (Bel)
1919 Henri Van Lerberghe (Bel) Leon Buysse (Bel) Jules Van Hevel (Bel)
1914 Marcel Buysse (Bel) Henri Van Lerberghe (Bel) Pierre Van De Velde (Bel)
1913 Paul Deman (Bel) Jozef Van Daele (Bel) Victor Doms (Bel)
* - 1974: Walter Godefoot finished 3rd but was disqualified for doping.
** - 1977: Walter Plankaert finished 2nd but was disqualified for doping.
*** - 1977: Guy Sibille finished 3rd but was disqualified for doping.

See Also:
The Tour of Flanders 2002 - Home Page
The Tour of Flanders 2002 - Race Description
The Tour of Flanders 2002 - Race Photos
Photos from Flanders