OUDENAARDE, Belgium (VN) — If you found Sunday’s Tour of Flanders to be one of the most exciting, colorful and dramatic bike races you’ve ever seen, you’re not alone.
Belgian cycling fans have been passionate about De Ronde van Vlaanderen for nearly a century — so much so, that the race is simply referred to throughout the country as De Ronde (The Tour), making it perhaps the only cycling country in the world that prioritizes its race above the French stage race customarily referred to as “The Tour.”
Last Wednesday stage 2 of Three Days of De Panne started in the Belgian city of Oudenaarde, deep in the heart of Flanders.
A small-sized city of 30,000, Oudenaarde is the traditional start line for the women’s Tour of Flanders and is the closest city to well-known cobbled climbs such as the Paterberg, Koppenberg and Oude Kwaremont.
While in Oudenaarde, VeloNews visited the Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen, a two-story museum just off the Market Square, dedicated to the history of the Tour of Flanders. In addition to several thousand square feet of displays, the museum also features a conference room, gift shop and Brasserie De Flandrien, which offered up daily specials such as Carbonnades Cancellara, Spaghetti Boononaise and Pasta Ballan. (By now there’s no doubt a special named after Sunday’s winner Nick Nuyens.)
Admission is 7 euros; or, for 75 euros, you can have a guided tour by museum patriarch Freddy Maertens, the two-time Belgian world champion who, sadly, never claimed a Ronde title for himself.
It’s not the first time VeloNews has stepped inside the race’s museum; four years ago contributor Jason Sumner stepped inside and shared a few photos. With the De Panne stage beginning 100 meters from the museum, we couldn’t resist another look.
For more information on the Tour of Flanders museum visit its website.