Dwars door Vlaanderen comes home in RSL
After Waregem had been the start and finish of Dwars door Vlaanderen for years - the race was known as Dwars door België until 2000 - this changed in 1999. That year the race gets underway in Kortrijk. In 2007 Roeselare is the starting point of the Dwars door Vlaanderen race for the first time. The first contract extension was followed by a second and a third. This makes Roeselare, capital of the world champions, the starting point for this classic race for the 15th time.
Hoofdstad der Wereldkampioenen
Roeselare is the Capital of World Champions. With Benoni Beheyt, Patrick Sercu, Freddy Maertens and Jean-Pierre Monseré, the city counts no less than four world champions. So it is not surprising that the Museum of Cycle Racing is located in Roeselare. KOERS has a Hall of World Champions. Current world champions find their way to KOERS. Former world champion Alejandro Valverde stepped into the museum shortly before the start of the 2019 race and donated a rainbow jersey!
Terrorist attacks in Brussels
In 2020, the edition was forced to be cancelled, due to Covid-19. In 2016, too, it seemed that the course would not be able to go ahead. The day before Dwars door Vlaanderen, Belgium was shocked by attacks in and around Zaventem on 22 March. The Belgian State Security initially thought it was not advisable to race one day later, but changed its mind. To show their sympathy, the peloton started with black mourning bands on their arms.
Just like Roeselare, Izegem is known as a true cycling town. Just think of Izegem Koers, one of the country's premier carnival races, the now defunct Brussels-Izegem semi-classic, but also of famous cycling figures such as Johan Bruyneel, the Sercu family and Freddy Viaene. Roger Decock - winner of the Tour of Flanders in 1952 - who died in 2020, was also a citizen of Izegem. He was born here and lived in Izegem for many years. Watch an excerpt from an interview with Roger here.
Ingelmunster is the home of Yves Lampaert, two-time winner of Dwars door Vlaanderen. Lampaert grew up in this town and still lives there, just a stone's throw from his parental home. The two trophies Yves received after his victories in Waregem were given a place on his parents' farm.
The farmer's son Lampaert captured many a Flemish cycling heart by giving an interview to reporter Renaat Schotte after his arrival of Dwars door Vlaanderen, edition 2018, in a mixture of West Flemish and Dutch.
Deerlijk is not only home to two-time Ronde-winner Stijn Devolder, but also to cycling club KSV Deerlijk. The club exists since 1927 and is after Fernand Cloet and Walter Coucke only on its third (!) Chairman.
Few clubs produce as many professional cyclists and can boast titles as Deerlijk. The list of famous members is impressive: Briek Schotte, Germain Derycke, Gilbert Desmet, André Noyelle, Jef Planckaert, Eric Leman, Dirk Baert, Patrick Lefevere, Dirk Demol, Eric Van Lancker, Johan Bruyneel, Niko Eeckhout and Julien Vermote.
Desselgem, a borough of Waregem, has had an iron sculpture in honour of Briek Schotte since 2004. This is no coincidence, of course. Briek lived in Desselgem for many years. In the autumn of 2020, a coin was presented in Waregem town hall to mark the 100th anniversary of Briek's birth.
In 1945, Waregem Vooruit cycling club organises Dwars door België for the first time, the predecessor of the current Dwars door Vlaanderen. The board actually wants to organise a two-day race, but due to a very busy racing calendar, has to settle for a one-day event. After Brussels-Sint-Truiden the day before, the peloton will ride from Sint-Truiden to Waregem the day after. Rik Van Steenbergen will be the first name on the list of winners.
Waregem: hosting city of national and world championships
Waregem Vooruit has a few other notable organisations to its name besides Dwars door Vlaanderen. It was thanks to this cycling club that the World Championships were held in Waregem in 1957. In 1966 and 1989 the BK was held in Waregem, thanks to Waregem Vooruit. In '66 Guido Reybrouck was the best, in '89 Carlo Bomans won.
One of Waregem Vooruit's key figures is Germain Beirlaen, who was a member of the board from 1958 until his death in 2010. In this excerpt from 2007 he is interviewed about the 1957 World Championships.
DDV: stronger together
After the first edition, in 1946, there is again a cooperation with Sint-Truiden. This time a real two-day event is organised. Maurice Desimpelaere wins that first two-day event. In its history, the board cooperates with a total of three cities in Limburg. Apart from Sint-Truiden, these are Genk (1949 and 1964) and Eisden (1950-1957). Waregem Vooruit can rely on the local government and local cycling clubs in each of these cities.
Kluisbergen is the town where Eddy Merckx won his very last race in 1977. In memory of this victory, a monument to Eddy was unveiled and you will find an Eddy Merckx cycle route here. Merckx's list of honours does not include a victory in Dwars door België. In 1966 Eddy was first across the line, but he was downgraded afterwards. Walter Godefroot, who fell in the last metres, was awarded the victory.
As a team leader with Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise, Walter Planckaert goes up and down the Nieuwe Kwaremont several times a year. Eddy's older brother not only has a great record as a team leader but also as a cyclist. His list of honours includes the Tour of Flanders, the Tour of Belgium and two victories in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Planckaert was also the best rider twice in Dwars door België (1977, 1984). In 1977 he won on his own in particularly harsh weather conditions; in 1984 he beat his breakaway companions in the sprint.
Ladies, let's go!
In 2012, a women's edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen will be held for the first time. First under the name GP Stad Waregem, later as Dwars door Vlaanderen for women. With this additional race, the board wants to meet the growing interest in women's cycling.
Since 2019, the Côte de Trieu (Knokteberg) has been part of the course. Dutch Ellen Van Dijk wins the race just like in 2018. The list of honour is almost entirely Dutch: only the Finnish Lotta Lepistö interrupts the list.
Between 1958 and 1963 Waregem Vooruit collaborated with the Walloon town of Ciney. There the riders find a home with the local Brothers of the Christian Schools.
According to the newspaper Het Volk, the riders could stay there in 1961 in "sober but nice rooms with all the necessary equipment." After the Waregem-Ciney stage, the riders were invited "to the well-kept refectory, the tables of which were decorated with flowers.
One day later, the Waregem public can warm up in anticipation of the peloton at a race for independents and a criterium for ladies.
Crisis at Waregem Vooruit in 1971. The Belgian Cycling Federation is planning a race in the Waasland region on the same day as Dwars door België. The Spring Criterium in France and the Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands will also take place that day. The organisation fears the mass absence of top riders at the start and chooses to put its money where its mouth is. It would be better to have no Dwars door België than only B-Riders at the start. There is a vacancy on the list of winners after Daniel Vanryckeghem (1970) and before Marc Demeyer (1972).
In 1983, the Dutch top cyclist Gerrie Knetemann had a serious fall. In the descent of the Ladeuze (Etikhove territory), the bespectacled Dutchman crashed into a parked car. The consequences are serious: he loses a lot of blood due to a torn wrist artery. For a while, the end of his career was feared. It is not until the end of 1983 that the Dutchman makes his comeback. However, the heavy fall in Dwars door België (Cross Country through Belgium) remains a scar.
Terpstra wins Dwars door Vlaanderen for the first time in 2012. The Naderlander has a 47 seconds lead on teammate Sylvain Chavanel and compatriot Koen de Kort.
Niki is victorious in Waregem for the second time in 2014. The Dutchman celebrates that victory in a special way. When Renaat Schotte asked him how he experienced the final kilometres, Terpstra answered (for the first time) with a piece of songtext.
After a first cooperation with Sint-Truiden, the board chooses a cooperation with Walloon Spa in 1948. In two days, the peloton covered 475 kilometres. On Saturday it goes via Ninove, Halle, Nivelles, Namur, Huy and Liège to Spa. There, according to the newspaper Het Volk, the riders will be able to "wash themselves in the town's baths (including soap)".
On Sunday the peloton again races Dwars door België until Waregem. Marcel Hendrickx wins in Spa, Florent Rondelé is the best in Waregem. However, it is André Rosseel who is the most regular and becomes the overall winner.
On the Ninoofsesteenweg, the peloton passes by Flobecq. Near the village is the Côte du Hurdumont (also known as the Pottelberg), a slope that served as the last stop of the race in Dwars door België. With the name change to Dwars door Vlaanderen and the additional support of the Flemish government, the Hurdumont disappeared from the race route.
World Championships in Ronse
Ronse does not have an enviable place in cycling history. After an eventful World Championship in 1963 - Benoni Beheyt remounts the supposed winner Rik Van Looy in the end and takes the world title - it's back to business in 1988. In the final Steve Bauer crashes Claudy. The Walloon crosses the finish line with his bike in his hands, while Fondriest wins the world championship as a smiling third. Claudy takes legal action against the Canadian but ultimately loses. Is Ronse cursed?
Oudenaarde and the Ronde are inextricably linked. The first edition, organised by the brand new sports newspaper Sportwereld, brought the riders via Ghent, Sint-Niklaas, Oudenaarde, Kortrijk and Veurne, back to the velodrome in Mariakerke. Only 10 of the 37 riders who started the race, covering 324 kilometres, completed it.
By the way, did you know that not Van Wijndaele but Van den Haute is the founder and the very first strong man of this race?
Tristan Hoffman has a special place on the list of honour of Dwars door Vlaanderen. He is the only rider to have won both Dwars door België (1996) and Dwars door Vlaanderen (2000). In Waregem Hoffman won the most beautiful race of his career. His farewell race in his Dutch home town of Groenlo was appropriately named 'Dwars door Groenlo'...
Dwars door Vlaanderen has no less than 9 double winners on its list of honour. One of them is Niko Eeckhout. Rambo' was the best in 2001 and 2005. In 2001, the man from Wielsbeken triumphed after a solo run of no less than 200 kilometres, in particularly inclement weather conditions. Four years later, the fast Eeckhout beat Roger Hammond and Gabriele Balducci in the sprint.
Nokere Koerse has gained a lot of respect in recent years. The race was first held in 1945 and now has a very nice record. In 2022 the race - with Nokereberg as arrival zone - will have its 76th edition. As one of the first, the organisation equated the prize money of the women with that of the men in 2022, which is unique in the world of cycling.
Anno 2017 maakt West-Vlaming Yves Lampaert het mooie weer in Dwars door Vlaanderen. Lampaert werkt de hele dag in dienst van kopman Philippe Gilbert. In de finale ruikt hij zijn kans als Gilbert na een mislukte aanval even de benen stilhoudt. Lampaert gaat er vandoor, wint solo in Waregem en mag op het podium pronken met een pluchen paard.