Johan Museeuw helps Ronse to design proposed Ronde van Vlaanderen finish
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Monday, April 18, 2011

Johan Museeuw helps Ronse to design proposed Ronde van Vlaanderen finish

by Ben Atkins at 1:12 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
 

johan museeuwThree-time Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Johan Museeuw is helping the city of Ronse with its bid to become host to the finish of Flanders’ biggest one-day race, according to Het Laatste Nieuws. The Ronde has finished in Meerbeke, on the outskirts of Ninove, just to the west of the Belgian capital Brussels, since 1973 but the current contract has now expired and so Ronse is one of the towns bidding to take its place.

"I can’t deny that I have a sentimental bond with Meerbeke", said 1996 World champion Museeuw. "I won the Ronde three times and took a number of podium places. The question is, of course, whether the finish is moving? Apparently they wanted something new and so Ronse is the right choice."

Museeuw, nicknamed “de Leeuw van Vlaanderen” (the Lion of Flanders) is the most successful rider in the history of the race, having won in 1993, 1995 and 1998, finished in second place in 1991, 1994 and 2002, and third place in 1996 and 1999; he also won Paris-Roubaix three times and is the only rider in history to have three wins in both.

"When I was asked to draw up a course, I thought of the mobility of the spectators,” he explained. “Now some people drive from place to place; with the Oude Kwaremont twice and the Paterberg you avoid this, the spectators can see the riders several times.

“In addition, it preserves the concept of the Ronde van Vlaanderen of the past. The Muur and the Bosberg lie about the same distance from the finish line of the hills I mentioned," he argued.

The city of Ronse, or Renaix to give it its French-speaking name, sits in the very south west of the province of East Flanders, close to the border with Wallonia. The city was the host to the 1988 World Championships, won by Maurizio Fondriest of Italy after Belgian Claude Criquielion and Canadian Steve Bauer controversially came together in the uphill finishing straight.

Other than Meerbeke, which obviously wants to hold on to the finish, Ronse’s rival for the race finish is Oudenaarde. The two cities are less than 10 miles apart and so are both much closer to the hill zone, where action begins to start on the race’s current course, than Meerbeke.

“For the project to miss out would be shame,” said race organiser Luc Van Den Abeele, one of the driving forces behind the city’s bid. “On the Doorniksesteenweg, where everything would be situated, there is everything necessary to accommodate the finish, and also I the end of the race would become more beautiful because of this. Ronse has a truth cycling tradition.

“With the arrival of Ronde van Vlaanderen however, we would suddenly hugely expand our cycling history.”

Ronse, Oudennarde and Meerbeke will now have to wait until early June to find out which of them will host the finish of the 2012 Ronde.

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