2000 Tour of Flanders (a personal reflection)

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By Marty Jemison — Julian Dean, Kirk O’Bee and myself (Marty Jemison) covered every attack in the first 80 kms….. there never were more than 3-4 riders making an attempt without us. We burned a lot of matches, but there was not going to be a break where Postal was not represented.

The Peloton and ourselves allowed two riders to escape…… then things could calm down.. I went back for feed bags even though the feed zone was within 10kms….this was security against attacks there, the first cobbles were close.

Marty Jemison and Viatcheslav Ekimov. Photo courtesy Marty Jemison
Marty Jemison and Viatcheslav Ekimov. Photo courtesy Marty Jemison

The approach to the first section of cobbles is very nervous. I was trying to move up on the left, but it was very difficult. At the moment the first riders braked into the left hand turn I accelerated up the left, egged on by Martin den Baker’s voice behind me… I was able to move up into the top 30 riders or so.

Not a bad position…… I felt comfortable through this section.

We emerged back onto the main road….. the peloton would regroup….

Leading to the Molenberg I was able to position myself into the top 10….. I did this on a fast descent….sprinting up the right side of the peloton before another sharp left hand turn. Positioning is so important in this race. It is a right hand turn for this climb, the speed we had in the front gave us a great advantage. In the back of the group they would wait nearly in a track stand before starting the climb….. On top the wind made it hard for riders to close gaps as they finished the climb….. the peloton was in pieces…. all single file. I was still fresh and was in the front group…. probable one of the easiest climbs of the day for me. It was all positioning.

Somewhere around the Paddestraat I moved away with 20 riders or so…..some riders gave it some gas but it was hardly the right combination….. I soft pedaled only, as neither Eki or George were there ….. Postal’s undisputed leaders. I could see Mapei working on the front of the group behind….. 80-100 riders would regroup around the second feed zone at 180kms…

At 188kms Frankie came to the front, just before the Kluisberg. I rode in this wheel into the base of the climb and then took over…. I led the group over the top at a controlled pace.

I had a FLAT! my tire was soft, in the descent I thought I was going to miss a turn.. The peloton is picking up steam….. Dylan gave me his rear wheel. I chased hard, we were on a large road but I knew we were approaching another left turn onto small roads once again… just before the Knokteberg. I was in the cars, gaining one position then losing two……. until the group hit the left turn, there I was able to make a big effort and came back……

Improving your position on these small roads is nearly impossible…..I may have lost some friends as I quacked my way past whomever I could…..in the back this is not too difficult as these riders are at the limit, being dropped is inevitable. (my turn is coming )

My race gets a bit blurry now, only because I do not know the names of the climbs by sight. Somewhere after around Oude-Kwaremont, Patersberg, Kortekeer. (210kms)…Eki was behind and bridging back on his own. I had missed him when he damaged a wheel…. I was with 20 or so riders and 20 or so riders ahead by 20 seconds or so. I thought both Eki and George were in that front 20… It was a great surprise when Eki came to me and tapped me on my hip….. Time to work. At first two Lotto riders were riding in pursuit, then Eki and I took over… A two man team time trial that took us maybe 5kms to bridge…. Eki regained and moved up.

My body was starting to fade…… after all the work in the first 80 kms etc etc… Eki and George were now in the front , all other Postal riders were dropped (except Cedric who helped Eki as well)

4 of us would finish the race…… We did not win , we did not make the podium. Eki did though make a solo attempt to catch Tchmil in the last kilometer…… he was close.

Marty

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