Oudenaarde, Belgium (VN) — Few races have their own dedicated museum, but the Tour of Flanders does.
The Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen in Oudenaarde was opened long before the race finish was relocated there in 2011, but now it is situated right in the heart of the race it celebrates.
The Tour of Flanders is embedded into the culture of the region and regularly pulls in some of the biggest crowds at any event on the UCI’s road calendar.
While the last two seasons have seen near-empty roadsides due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2022 “Ronde” should see the masses return to cheer on Flanders’ finest.
The build-up to Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix, begins with the “opening weekend” of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
VeloNews is in town for the races and decided to pop along to the museum and see what it has to offer.
What we found was a treasure trove of old and new equipment from the Tour of Flanders annals, a delve into the beginnings of the race, and a wildly misjudged display on female cyclists that is in desperate need of updating.
Despite the slightly odd section on why women will never be able to beat men, there are attempts to include the women’s race into the displays.
The museum is a great place to spend a few hours, with an audio guide providing added insight into the race’s history.
An old Molteni team car sits on the pavement outside the museum.
Tom Boonen paraphernalia dominates the museum. The Belgian rider won the Tour of Flanders three times: in 2005, 2006, and 2012.
There is a lot of equipment from the early days of cycling on display in the museum.
A preview from the 1959 race in Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.
A limited edition version of the Jommeke comic series was printed for the 2015 Tour of Flanders.
Walter Planckaert’s shoes from the 1976 Tour of Flanders. Planckaert won that year’s race in a three-up sprint with Francesco Moser and Marc Demeyer.
Johan Museeuw’s helmet. The Belgian won the Tour of Flanders three times: 1993, 1995, and 1998.
There are portraits of all the male winners of the Tour of Flanders up to 2019 winner Alberto Bettiol.
One of the many Eddy Merckx bikes on show at the museum. This one is in a room dedicated specifically to winners of “De Ronde.”
Of the more peculiar items in the museum is this candle with the picture of Rudi Altig on it.
The jersey, gloves, and goggles of Fred De Bruyne, who won the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in 1957.
Fred De Bruyne’s shorts, cap, and helmet.
The world champion’s jersey that Tom Boonen was wearing when he won the 2006 Tour of Flanders. It still has the mud on it.
The kit that Annemiek van Vleuten wore to victory in 2021 is the only item from the women’s race in the winner’s room.
Of course, the seats are jersey themed.
The museum is full of lots of old images, including these from the early years of the Tour of Flanders.
Chaos on the Koppenberg in 1976.
Bicycle pumps evolution throughout the years.
Even COVID-19 now has its own place in the race’s history.
A look back on routes from previous seasons, including this 347-kilometer monster from the debut edition in 1913.
The eyewear has definitely changed over the years, though nobody has taken to wearing the ski goggles that Peter Sagan wore on the podium after his win.
If you’re feeling brave enough, you can try out one of the bikes.
All the bergs climbed by the Tour of Flanders in its history.
There are cars inside as well as outside.
The women’s race — finally! — features later in the museum with sections on the history of women in racing and images of all the race’s winners.
There is an odd section that compares male and female racers.
And a very misjudged piece detailing why the women will never beat the men, as though the female riders are from a different species.
There are some newer bikes, including Alexander Kristoff’s 2016 winning Canyon.
Get on the podium with Mathieu van der Poel and Fabian Cancellara.
Counting down the days until the next Tour of Flanders. Not long, now!