Sunday, April 09, 2006

Tom Boonen (and the Denby Pottery Company)

Today is a lazy day ... we drove back to Snuffelland, over on the edge of Weelde-Statie village near the border with the Netherlands and picked up 8 Denby dinner plates (and 2 cups I couldn't resist) ... adding to the casserole dish which has already been tested and approved.

Gert wanted to take another look at the brand that had turned my normally non-brand conscious head. Cries from the blog comments box had also made him question just how bad the colour actually was ... living with an accident-prone woman, the one who has managed to chip almost all of his dinner plates, did the rest.

However this afternoon is all about the Paris to Roubaix Cycle Race ...

I had imagined that New Zealand had cornered the market on 'strange and unusual' sporting activities but the Paris to Roubaix race takes strange and unusual physical suffering to a level I hadn't considered.

Imagine cobblestone roads ... on a racing bike with thin racing bike tyres, traveling over said cobblestones at speeds of between 40 and 60km per hour, sometimes faster and you have the Paris-Roubaix. It was launched in 1896 and is considered one of cycling's premiere events, a race that is both unique and unflinching in its philosophy. Riders and bikes find their resilience tested to the extreme, on roads where feats of legend are bound to crop up.

The famed cobblestones of the hellish north are challenging although this test of resiliency in no way rules out raw velocity - Dutchman Peter Post's record of 45,129 km/h has stood since 1964, with Belgium winning 50 times as compared to France's 30 ...

Tom Boonen is today's great hope for Belgium, a stunning rider who is making his presence felt in the cycling world. Here's an extract from an interview with Tom.

Tom Boonen is the new leading light of cycling. The strapping world champion seems to be the sparkle in everyone's eye, from salty old cycling fans to Belgian beauties who swoon at the very sight of him in his rainbow jersey. At 24, Boonen has replaced the retired Lance Armstrong as the top draw among fans, if crowds outside team buses at spring races are a barometer of rider magnetism.

Boonen-mania seems to be in full flight and there's no sign of it abating anytime soon. Dubbed a Merckx for a new century, Boonen is poised to defend his double Flanders-Roubaix titles starting with this Sunday's Tour of Flanders.

In keeping with the developing Boonen legend, Tom won the Tour of Flanders last weekend however even legends have off days and today was only a 5th ... not bad.

Update: Tom's been upgraded to 2nd because 3 riders in front of him crossed a railway line while the barrier arms were down. It's against the rules and they were later disqualified.

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