17 days ago
The countryside is abuzz, as tens of thousands of people rush from cobbled track to cobbled track to wait for the helicopter that signals the arrival of the riders. First, the publicity caravan passes, and kids and grown men scramble to collect the trinkets and candies that were thrown from the cars’ windows. Then, the race director arrives, red flags flapping, as he plays a tune with his horn, and a giant speaker blasts the same advertising jingle over and over. A squadron of police motorbikes follows. Then, the cafés empty, and people cram more-or-less-drunkenly to the sides of the road to try to get a better view. Volunteer marshals in pale blue jackets stride up and down the berm, warning everyone to stay on the grass. Then, the low-flying helicopter appears, sweeps over the familiar contours of the land, and turns towards them, the chop-chop of its rotors soon muffled by a mounting cheer that is deafening when the first riders make their appearance. There is just enough time to see their dead-to-the-world faces, notice any ripped and bloody kit, and rate the contenders’ pedal strokes. Then, there is a mad dash for the cars, as every family and group of friends take off on their favoured route through the back lanes of Flanders to get to the place on the course where they next hope to see their heroes... @cauldphoto’s gallery from the @rondevanvlaanderenofficial is online.
Words by @keirplaice
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