Tom Boonen isn’t the only three-time winner of the Tour of Flanders who is a fan of disc brakes, it turns out – this promo video for April’s Monument features Johan Museeuw, nicknamed the Lion of Flanders, taking in some of the race’s iconic locations on a bike equipped with the controversial technology.
Classics season is just around the corner – it kicks off in earnest a week tomorrow with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – and will be the last campaign featuring Boonen who, along with his great rival, the recently retired Fabian Cancellara, is the standout rider over the cobbles of his generation.
His final race will be Paris-Roubaix on Sunday 9 April, where he is seeking a record fifth victory, and you can bet your last euro that the previous Sunday the whole of Belgium will be hoping that he can become the first man to win the Tour of Flanders on four occasions.
He’s already made history this season – last month, at the Tour of san Juan in Argentina, the Quick Step Floors rider became the first rider to win a professional race on disc brakes.
Museeuw, like Boonen, is a three-time winner at Flanders. Now aged 51, he won the race in 1993, 1995 and 1998, and also has a hat-trick of Paris-Roubaix victories among his palmares, as well as the 1996 road world championship.
In the promo for this year’s Belgian Monument, Museeuw stops for a selfie with the statue of Briek Schotte, nicknamed ‘The Last Flandrian,’ who died at the age of 84 on 4 April 2004, the day that year’s edition of the Tour of Flanders took place.
Twice a winner of the race and a two-time world champion, Schotte’s standout season was 1948.
That year that brought him his second Tour of Flanders win, his first rainbow jersey – his other came in 1950 – and saw him finish runner-up to the great Gino Bartali in what is considered one of the most dramatic editions ever of the Tour de France.
That’s chiefly because Bartali – who had been in dispute over leadership of the Italian team with his great rival, Fausto Coppi – almost abandoned the race due to his treatment by French fans, with the war still a recent memory.
Following an assassination attempt against Italian Communist Party leader Palmiro Togliatti, Italy’s prime minister, Alcide De Gasperi, pleaded with Bartali to stay in the race, and his victory is credited with uniting the Italian people at a time when the country looked certain to be plunged into civil unrest.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.