"I will play my card but how it's gonna play that's gonna be the joker?"Two champions two different perspectives on winning the 2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Tomorrow morning in Brugge, the peloton will roll out of town for the 96th edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. At yesterday's Ronde van Vlaanderen press conference in Kortrijk the two favourites, Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen spoke about their chances of winning in 2012. An in form Boonen has the chance to take his third win in just over a week, after taking out the E3 Harelbeke and Gent Wevelgem, he's also won Ronde van Vlaanderen twice before. Cancellara had this to say about his opponent, "It's just nice to see him back, because for him it was not easy the last few years, and in the end he wants to race his bike, I want to race my bike, we want to race races, and he wants to win, I want to win, and that's just easy, and who is better or not, in the end it's the luck or not luck you have that's maybe gonna make the decision on Sunday."
Boonen's thoughts on racing Cancellara were different, he spoke about his sprint as being his number one asset that could be used against Cancellara, after Milan Sanremo and the Green Edge win for Simon Gerrans - Boonen's confidence is assured. Boonen on Cancellara: "Maybe he's got a slightly bigger engine but I'm a little bit faster. We're two different riders with the same objectives. If you look at it in a physical way then we're a level above the rest with a really hard finale then we're the two riders who can decide the race although that doesn't want to say one of us will win. We've got the key to the race in our hands."
Cancellara's feelings brought him to luck and the joker as markers for success on Sunday. With an in form Boonen as local sentimental favourite and the entire peleton eager to tuck in behind their favourite "human motorbike" it's easy to empathise with Cancellara who's leaving it to the joker to decide, he summed it up this way, "you have Patterberg, you have many other climbs, they gonna be hard and they gonna hurt, it's gonna be a race with difficults, [sic] and we have to live with that, and who is gonna ride faster up or not on the end you have to ride fast to maybe get the jackpot and that's what counts ….. there's a lot of teams that have one or even two riders that can maybe play a card and for sure ..... I will play my cardbut how it's gonna play that's gonna be the joker."
The Climbs in 2012 (Hellingen Les Côtes) 1: Taaienberg at 109.3 km 530m - Average Gradient 6.6% - Max. 18% - Cobbles for 500m. The Taaienberg: "I once saw Laurent Jalabert accelerating hard - really hard - on the Taaienberg. Right then, everyone thought the race was over, because Jalabert was like Superman. But on the Berendries, a few hills later, he completely collapsed. If you want to win the Tour of Flanders, you have to be cool, relaxed and attentive. The last thing you should do is throw your powers away too fast, too soon." Peter Van Petegem. 2: Eikenberg at 115.7 km 1300m - Gradient 6.2% - Max. 10% - Cobbles for 1200m 3: Molenberg at 131.3 463m - Gradient 7% - Max. 14.2% - Cobbles for 300m Molenberg: Molenberg, Zwalm. Climbs 32m from 24m to 56m. Maximum 17 per cent. First climbed 1983 The Molenberg: "Everyone wants to sit right at the front at the start of this hill. It's a real battle and then there's one big explosion. Those who don't manage to start the narrow climb smoothly risk getting blocked and having to put their foot down. In my prime, I did this climb three or four times in a row during training. That was the best way to train my legs for the explosion. [But] the Molenberg is only a test. It's far too early in the race to be decisive." Peter Van Petegem. 4: Rekelberg at 145.7 800m - Gradient 4% - Max 9% 5: Berendries at 149.0 940m - Gradient 7% - Max 12,3% Berendries: Berendries, Brakel-Sint-Maria-Oudenhove. Climbs 65m from 33m to 98m. Maximum 14 per cent. First climbed 1983 6: Valkenberg at 156.8 540m - Gradient 8.1% - Max 12.8% Valkenberg: Valkenbergstraat, Brakel-Nederbrakel. Climbs 53m from 45m to 98m. Maximum 15 per cent. First climbed 1959 7: Oude-Kwaremont at 179.5 2200m - Gradient 4% - Max. 11,6% - Cobbles 1500m The Oude Kwaremont: "The run-up to this climb is a race within a race. It's nervous, and elbows and shoulders are the order of the day to secure the best spot at the front. You really need to be a nasty bastard to defend and keep your position, but I had no problem with that. I had guts. The Oude Kwaremont is not a climb where you just stretch your legs. It's very important to be in the first two rows in order to get in the right position. If you have to chase from the foot of the Oude Kwaremont, you've lost already." Peter Van Petegem.
8: Paterberg at 183.0 360m - Gradient 12,9% - Max. 20,3% - Cobbles 360m "Out training, you can avoid the cobbles, but "this wouldn't be possible in the Tour of Flanders, since the gutter would be blocked with fences keeping the fans away from the road." Peter Van Petegem. 9: Koppenberg at 189.6 600m - Gradient 11,6 % - Max. 22 % -Cobbles 600m Climbs 64m from 13m to 77m; Maximum 25 per cent at inside of bend, otherwise 22 per cent. First climbed 1976. "Someone got his front wheel stuck in one of the grooves and it caused a chain reaction. Everyone had to climb on foot! The Koppenberg needed restoring again. They did a great job. The grooves are gone now, but if it rains, riders still have problems. It's incredibly steep and in wet conditions your rear wheel spins easily. Those kinds of hills spice up the race." Peter Van Petegem. 10: Steenbeekdries at 194.9 700m - Gradient 5,3% - Max. 6,7% 11: Kruisberg/Hotond 210.1 2500m - Gradient 5% - Max. 9% 12: Oude-Kwaremont at 220.0 2200m - Gradient 4% - Max. 11,6% - Cobbles1500m Climbs 93m from 18m to 111m. Maximum 11 per cent. First climbed 1974 13: Paterberg 223.4 360m - Gradient 12,9% - Max. 20,3% - Cobbles 360m 14: Hoogberg/Hotond at 230.4 3000m - Gradient 3,5% - Max. 8% 15: Oude-Kwaremont at 240.2 2200m - Gradient 4% - Max. 11,6% - Cobbles 1500m 16: Paterberg at 243.6 360m - Gradient 12,9% - Max. 20,3% -Cobbles 360m
13km from the Paterberg to the finish line at 256.9km