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Wallonia Grand Prix - 13 September
« on: September 12, 2017, 20:51 »

The Wallonia Grand Prix was first created in 1935 but the first edition until 1950 were not really high standard and disappeared for a long period until revived in 1970. That was the start of the Grand Prix as we know it today even though it did not always finish in Namur.

We had finishes in Tongrinnes, Ligny (famous Napoleonic battle between Namur & Charleroi) and Charleroi. The first finish in Namur was in 1985 with a win for  #fdj Mr Marc Madiot right after his first Paris-Roubaix win. The finish since then was usually on the top of the Citadelle though in the late eighties and in the nineties, there were often two ascents of the Citadelle in the final 10k, like in 1990.

The palmares has some big names such as beside Marc Madiot also Ferdinand Bracke (former Hour Record Holder),  #rainbow Felice Gimondi,  #rainbow Stephen Roche,  #rainbow Claude Criquielion,  #rainbow Hennie Kuiper, Herman Van Springel, Frans Verbeeck or more recently  #rainbow Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet.

One edition of the race is still in my memory. The first I've seen. It was in 1992 and I was just aged 8 but I was not in Namur that day, in my parents' flat in De Panne and watched the race on my dad's old black & white TV (I don't even know if he still has it). At that time actually between 1978 and 2002 (with the exception of Madiot's edition, actually), it was raced in May, traditionally on Ascension Thursday.

Ironically the move to September got it back in competition with the Tour of Spain which already was the case before 1995.

So in 1992 a five-man group broke away with a bit more than 50 km to go on the Côte de Sovimont: Sammie Moreels  #lotto , Danny Nelissen *nl (PDM rider!), Marc Bouillon, Fabian Jeker, Dominik Krieger *de and Benny Heylen. With 50km to go they already were 3' ahead and were sure to hold through. Sammie Moreels attacked on the Côte des Tris only countered by Bouillon while Danny Nelissen got back after a terrible effort. Unfortunately Sammie punctured. Nelissen and Bouillon would fight for the win and Nelissen won.

My father of course was rooting for Bouillon while I was inconsolable for Sammie's puncture. Till the end I hoped he could come back but that was unlikely to happen unless for another mishap, both leaders were sent off route! However Bouillon being a Walloon rider and knowing the route like his pocket (though he's from Soignies, about 100km from Namur), he led Nelissen back to the route.

At that time, the finish was on the Esplanade, the huge plateau just beneath the top of the climb, which means it was a flat finish. Nowadays, they really finish on the top of it. Bouillon thought he could have outsprinted Nelissen if the finish was at the real top.

Danny Nelissen later got famous for quick retirement from pro cycling due heart problems and his come back as amateur getting the last amateur World title.  #rainbow Marc Bouillon had started his career with Tonton Tapis. I remember Rodrigo Beenkens saying during the RTBF live coverage that day that he had never won a single race. He won Cholet - Pays de Loire a year later and a stage at the Circuit Franco-belge in 1994 (current Eurométropole Tour). Sammie Moreels was really one of my heroes, perhaps because I loved his name and I had already intuitioned that he was a potential rising star. I later learned that he was one of the main victims of the main EPO dopers. Perhaps actually that very day since Nelissen has had a lot of doping schandals behind him. Moreels as a neo pro in 1989 was 4th at the Walloon Arrow and 5th at Liège-Bastogne-Liège but then nothing of note.  :(

Hope you would forgive me for paying this tribute to one of my youth heroes.  ;)

GP de Wallonie 1992
1.Danny Nelissen(Ned)203,7km/5.27'
2.Marc Bouillon(Bel)
3.Sammie Moreels(Bel)1'09"
4.Dominik Krieger(Ger)1'20"
5.Fabian Jeker(Sui)2'15"
6.Marek Kulas(Pol)4'02"
7.Edwig Van Hooydonck(Bel)4'35"
8.Frank Van Den Abeele(Bel)
9.Benny Heylen(Bel)
10.Maarten Den Bakker(Ned)
11.Serge Baguet(Bel)4'39"
12.Beat Zberg(Sui)6'17"
13.Jean-Claude Leclercq(Fra)6'22"
14.Peter Van Petegem(Bel)
15.Jim Van De Laer(Bel)

Info regarding the current edition:

The startlist can be found on Pro Cycling Stats but it certainly is not definitive one. Loic Vliegen is still on it while he's just completed the Tour of Spain. So he probably won't be present.

RTBF and Eurosport cover the race from 3.15pm (CET) on but not Sporza (hasn't done it in many years), actually no Flemish broadcaster did. Streams should be findable


By the way the bulwark on the Citadelle that you may see was built by Field Marshal Vauban in the days of Louis XIV. My own grandfather who was a Flemish resident in Namur contributed to giving historical indication for tourists as part of the "Terra Nova" project, on top of the Citadelle. Of course both in Dutch and French. I'm proud of him.  ;) :)

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  • « Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 21:20 by Echoes »
    "Paris-Roubaix is the biggest cycling race in the world, bigger than the Tour de France, bigger than any other bike race" (Sir Bradley Wiggins)


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    Re: Wallonia Grand Prix - 13 September
    « Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 08:53 »
    Interestingly enough the Belgian national team this year is strictly made of U23 prospects, led by multi-talent Jasper Philipsen, the unfortunate guy from Doha :)  but there is quite a lot of talent in there. :cool

    191 CRAS Steff
    192 DEWULF Stan
    193 LAMBRECHT Bjorg
    194 PHILIPSEN Jasper
    195 VANHOUCKE Harm
    196 VERWILST Aaron
    197 WARLOP Jordi
    198 WILLEMS Thimo

    Last year was a record high temperature for September in Belgium, bright sunny day, I was suffering martyrdom. This year however:

    70kmh wind expected from South, South West. So favourable wind on the Citadelle, normally.  ;)
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  • Mellow Velo

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    Re: Wallonia Grand Prix - 13 September
    « Reply #2 on: September 13, 2017, 17:33 »
     So, the wind did it's thing and we got echelons, which then became an elite selection.
    We had long range attacks after that, with Wellens making the one that counted.
    All in all, a cracking edition of this underrated race.

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  • « Last Edit: September 15, 2017, 07:55 by Mellow Velo »
    "Science is a tool for cheaters". An anonymous French PE teacher.


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    Re: Wallonia Grand Prix - 13 September
    « Reply #3 on: September 15, 2017, 00:07 »
    Tim Wellens Puts Things Back in Order On the Citadelle

    The Limburger Flew Over the Wallonia GP

    (Le Soir - 14 September)

    As Marion Rousse said (Tony Gallopin's wife who is more famous than him) on France Television, "only a Lotto rider or another Lotto rider should have won." [:lol] as the Lotto dominance and control of the event was characteristic of finale of this Wallonia GP beside their need to add another trophy after a shining Tour of Spain.

    Throughout the race from Chaudfontaine to Namur other matters spiced up the whole case such rain at the start but most of all wind gusts which would have suited to a good Flemish classic.

    It was an Autumn version of Ghent-Wevelgem, fighting against with natural elements. None of them justified the heavy crash of Jérôme Baugnies at the start of the race, his rescue by helicopter furiously recalls his teammates of Wanty-Groupe Gobert the drama that took their other teammate Antoine Demoitié's life, whom we will never forget. Jérôme Baugnies was third last year, which is almost his best performance [no love for Overijse ???].

    Reassuring news about a surgery at the 8th vertebra University Hospital of Liège dissipated anxiety about Baugnies but the peloton still faced extreme weather conditions and in such circumstances, whether he admits it or not, Tim Wellens remains a phenomenon!

    He who has recently deplored to us the smallness of his 2017 palmarès [see the article I posted in the Quebec/Montreal thread  ;)], his inability to win big races or at least to confirm his presence at the highest level [he mostly said to make progress compared to last year] juggled between raindrops, justifying his capacity to control elements that most riders hate.

    To the extent of making it a trademark?

    No but I agree that the conditions were favourable. A few days ago I was not on the startlist. My decision was made according to my legs, the route and perhaps also a bit the rain. Most of all Maxime Monfort was first named but he's left me his dossard. #4! I took it
    Tim Wellens was celebrated between two 100 year old trees because it was for a moment discussed whether the finish could still be kept on the Citadelle.

    The rider of Nandrin still has health issues and decided to withdraw. So Lotto-Soudal came with three leaders: Tony Gallopin, Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens. The first one to take initiative would get the advantage but at Lotto Soudal Tony Gallopin would rather wait.
    Tiesj Benoot also had the legs to do it. I think he's very disappointed because well the road was clear for him. He is 4th, Tony Gallopin is 2nd and I win. Sorry but it's hard to get better.

    The opposition could not do anything. This ballet sprinkled with Belgian riders. Only Julien Simon (Cofidis) sneaked into a losing battle, despite the presence of Jan Bakelants (5th), Dylan Teuns (6th) or Gianluca Brambilla (8th).
    Tactically wise, it was easy. We cut the race from the Côte de Lustin on, with Jelle Vanendert. Then Tiesj Benoot attacked and then I attacked as well. I knew that if I could take a 30" lead rather quickly, it was done because there was no opposition behind, or actually yes, but much less represented than us, collectively speaking.

    Tony Gallopin at his ... Former Team's Service

    For of the Lotto Soudal riders yesterday had raced in Canada. Only one was not planned: the winner Tim Wellens who had to replace Maxime Monfort still suffering from the problems that had him retire from the Tour of Spain. As to wish him to heal soon, Tim Wellens said several times: "Merci Maxime".
    This being said I had already shown in Canada that I had good legs. Weather conditions ended up convincing me and most of all to help take responsabilities, which does not question my role in the Belgian team in Bergen. The two leaders remaining Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert but I probably won't be the first to wind-shelter them.

    The reasoning is clear and is typical of Tim Wellens, a selected rider in top form while Jan Bakelants is not. Tim Wellens seemed to act like Tony Gallopin's spokesman, defending champion but soon a rider for AG2R. Did this tranfer made the difference?
    It's not the way we are reasoning in cycling. I am racing for Lotto Soudal till the end of the year. We had chances, even luxury. Several guys were strong. I considered anticipating with Tiesj Benoot and then Tim Wellens suggested to. With us behind and with the legs that he has there was no chance the victory could escape us. My only regret is that we could not make a perfect sweep. It shows that my team's interest mattered first. In any case I am relieved with regards to my form before the Worlds
    Tony Gallopin will be France's leader in Bergen.
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