by Guy Van Den Langenbergh on 26 June 2021
Fabian Cancellara. Swiss by birth, Flandrien by choice. I heard him say it many times, how much he wanted to know what it would feel like to be a flandrien. To do this, he had to win the Tour of Flanders, the Swiss said. And the Swiss did win the Tour of Flanders on Sunday 4 April 2010. After a titanic duel with Tom Boonen, the champion of Belgium versus the champion of Switzerland, decided on the Muur of Geraardsbergen, the most mythical hill in the Flemish Ardennes. How much they would talk about that day later! The bike change, the suspicion of cheating, gratuitous accusations without any proof.

No day is so boring for a newspaper journalist as Easter Sunday! Because there is no newspaper on Monday! What story to captivate the reader do you bring two days after a riveting match? I repeated his earlier desire to know how it felt to be a flandrien. Nobody had asked him the question on Sunday night at the classic winner's press conference. And if the question had been asked, he would not have been able to give the answer.

But perhaps, one day later, he would be able to say how it felt to be a flandrien.

- Can I come over later? (sms)
- What do you want to know? (sms)
- You to tell me how it feels to be a flandrien for one day. And whether it's everything you expected it to be. (sms)
- 'Come over, by 5pm, after the massage.' (sms)

And so it was that Easter Monday, 5 April, the day after the Tour of Flanders, I drove from Antwerp to Kortrijk for an interview that turned into a monologue. About how people had looked at him and congratulated him at the Kortrijk Easter Fair, about how proud he had felt when he turned onto that last stretch in Meerbeke, about how proud he was about the fact that he could finally call himself a Flandrien. And that it felt good.

Later, in the hotel lobby, he personally came to offer me a glass of red wine while I wrote out my/his story. Sassicaia, the better vintage, in case I lacked inspiration. In a tightly orchestrated world where spokespeople determine when and where a rider can speak, it was a relief to be able to visit the winner of the Tour of Flanders just like that. After sending two text messages. And the same number of replies.

Koers - EN

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