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Echoes

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93rd Schaal Sels
« on: August 18, 2018, 12:56 »
HERESY! SCHANDAL! SACRILEGE!


The most beautiful race in the calendar has been replaced by a new one with a new ugly name, in English of course "Antwerp Port Epic" to make it more international (probably to please Antwerp's despicable mayor!) while it was so nice to see one of the oldest Belgian race taking such a telegenic route on cobbles and dirt roads.

The "Antwerp Port Epic" will be held on 2 september. The Schaal Sels still exists and will be held on 26 August but on a totally different from those last 3 years, actually back to its former route or sort of: 14 laps of 13km in Merksem, the local district, North of Antwerp where the Schaal Sels is traditionally held.

Ben Simons, the organiser of both races, claims that "due to the increasing national and international media attention, it has been decided to make a split. That way a further international grow does not stand in the way of the local character of Merksem".

https://www.wielerkrant.be/nl/nieuws/lees/2018-08-14/nieuwe-wielerwedstrijd-in-antwerpen-schaal-sels-wordt-in-een-nieuw-jasje-gestoken

I don't know what your thoughts about this are. In 2013 we've lost Paris-Brussels. Now an organiser decides to sabotage its own century-old race for the sake of globalisation. This world disgusts me.

I don't know if this is the place for a debate but I'm looking forward to reading your opinion.

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The Schaal Sels (formerly known as "Beker Sels, in French: "Coupe Sels", so "Sels Cup") was created in 1921. As such it's one of the oldest still existing Belgian races. Among the older races are Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1892), Paris-Brussels (1893; existing in a vegetative coma though), the National championship (1894), the Schelde Prijs (1907), the Tour of Belgium (1908), the Championship of Flanders - Koolskamp (1908), the Stadsprijs Geraardsbergen (1912) and the Tour of Flanders (1913). Non-exhautive list but ...

The Walloon Arrow, the Omloop or the E3 Harelbeke are a lot more recent.

The race is named after Jacques-Charles Sels, a multilingual sport journalist who settled in Paris. In 1920 the French newspaper "Le journal" he worked for asked him to recognise the race Milan-Antwerp which was scheduled to finish on 10 August in Antwerp as an intro to the Antwerp Olympics. I don't know much about that race. Whether it was a stage race or not (there were stupendously long single-stage races in those, especially the Bordeaux-Paris-Bordeaux race held in that very year 1920). I don't even know the winner of the race. Possibly it even was cancelled but verification is needed. In any case, during that recognition, on 2 May 1920, the rear axle of Jacques-Charles Sels' car broke and he did not survive the crash. A man from Brussels Jacques Broeckx also was killed in that crash. Little is known about the latter but Victor Moons along with NIcole Verstrepen and Jacques Vrancken published two years ago a History of the Schaal Sels. For that book they were lucky enough to meet Sels' grandson, himself a very old man who had found memories of his grandfather but unfortunately he also passed away before the book was published. They also found back Sels' grave at the Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris but sadly it was removed because the concession had expired. :( So now we do not know where he is ...




The French Wikipedia page of the Schaal Sels claims that Jacques-Charles Sels was a collaborator of Henri Desgrange. As he worked for about 17 newspapers or magazines, it might also include "L'auto" and that he invented the broomwagon !!!


"Le journal" wished to organise a race in his memory in Antwerp but it only took place a year later. In 1921! The deal was that the club of the winner should organise the 2nd edition but that did not seem to succeed, therefore there was no edition in 1922. One of the only 6 years the race was unheld (along with 1939, 1940, 1944, 1945 and 2014 because of "problems on the route"). So the 92nd edition will be held next Sunday.

In the pre-War era, some of the greatest Flandrian heroes put their names on its palmares: including first winner René Vermandel (1921 & 1923), Frans Bonduel (1930 & 1937) or Sylvère Maes (1933) or else the amazing talent from Antwerp Georges Ronsse (1925).

The Schaal Sels has always been held in the area of Anwerp. The first edition was in Wilrijk, in the Southern outskirts of the city. The 2nd edition started in and around Kapellen North of Antwerp (Mathieu Van der Poel's hometown) and since the 3rd edition in 1924, the race got to Merksem between Kapellen and Antwerp downtown, just East of Schoten where the Scheldeprijs finishes. The race has always been an Interclub race (which means that pros and amateurs raced together in clubs and not for pro teams) until 1996, which did not stop it from attracting great Belgian champion though as cycling internationalised after World War II, the Schaal Sels could not.

One old funny anecdote: In 1969 the Beker Sels should've been Jean-Pierre Monseré's very first race as a pros on 2 September. Jempi went cheerfully and well-groomed to the Antwerp region from his own Roeselaere and along with his good friend Roger De Vlaeminck whom he had just joined back at Flandria. Only everybody knew that the race started at "High Noon" (sic) but leaders of the Gentse Velosport (De Vlaeminck's club), of the Brugse Velosport (Monseré's club) and of Hoboken VAC. So that Jempi Monseré and Roger De Vlaeminck and about 15 riders  came to late to the start. De Vlaeminck took it rather lightly but Monseré found it so stupid as he had to postpone his debut as a pro. Anyway, just one month and 9 days later he was declared winner of the very first major classic he entered: the Tour of Lombardy.

The most prestigious winner is most probably Rik Van Looy in 1957, before he became "The Emperor of Herentals". His "protégé" Ward Sels won it in 1966 & 1968. Many thought that the "can opener" (named so because he would bring Van Looy back from the tail of the peloton towards the head of it before a sprint) had anything to do with this race but there does not seem to be any connection between him and Jacques-Charles. It's just a coincidence, he's a dual winner.

Frans Van Looy (also no relation to Rik) is the winner of the 1974 edition. He was a decent sprinter in the seventies. The current route is passing right before his farm which welcomes the riders to one of its hardest dirt road section.


In 1997, it was at last UCI sanctioned the 1.5 status, which was the lowest but one rank in the UCI ranking between 1989 and 2004. Then it was promoted to 1.4 the following year, whereby the field was strictly professional. In 2002 it had a 1.3 status. With the 2005 ProTour (nowadays World Tour) reform, it got the 1.1 status that it still has now (but it's not really a promotion from the 1.3 status it had before).

In the noughties, the race got a lot more attention as it got televised. Sporza covered the race in 2004. VT4 (now VIER) did so in 2004 and in 2007, the local Antwerp broadcaster ATV obtained the rights for it.

A dramatic event happened in 2006 when Christophe Brandt horrifically crashed ...

The day after Het Nieuwsblad predicted Christophe Brandt's career end. He came back in 2007 until 2010. But the injuries he had makes you shudder:

a burst spleen, a torn kidney artery whereby he lost a kidney (but his spleen could be saved), four fractured ribs, one of them having perforated his lung and finally a broken humerus. Given the extent of his injuries, the Walloon rider was brought into artificial coma for three days.
http://www.dhnet.be/sports/cyclisme/christophe-brandt-opere-d-urgence-a-perdu-un-rein-51b7c2b4e4b0de6db98c64a2
http://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/g7710sp3u

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In 2015 the Schaal Sels got facelifted for the better or the worse. The organisers tried to improve the race's attractivity with dirt roads besides cobbles (already existing on the former route). Yet the first edition of the Schaal Sels "new look" got internationally known for the tragi-comical incident in which the jury car got stuck in a maize field!





One year later Ben Simons - the organiser of the race along with the "Koninklijke Wielrijdersclub van Merksem" gave some explanation about the incident, admitting that some sections were chaotic but was due to a massive storm on the previous night that transformed some dirt roads into real mud baths and yet there were no complaints from the part of the riders.

Something only went wrong when an official car landed in a maize field and thereby held off some riders. There was alternative route planned for commissars but communication lapses accounted for the mishap.

See a Gazet van Antwerpen Article that I shared last year on the race's preview thread.

Despite the trouble, Schaal Sels was elected "Route of the Year" by Velonews in January 2016: http://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20160111_02061077

One rider animated the last three editions and that is no other than Cyclocross World Champion Wout Van Aert. In 2015 the rider of Lille was first of all hard working to catch lone leader Jelle Wallays with 40km to go along with three other riders (they were caught with less than 10km to go). On the following picture you can see Wout with Tim Declercq:




Quote
Until the neutralization, everything was okay. I even found it unique to take part in it. But then, all of a sudden, we stumbled on a wall of police agents. The race had to be re-shuffled. We stood still, didn't know why and knew even less where we were. Never seen that. But all things considered it was a very enjoyable race. It was only hard for us rider to orientate. At some point you race on normal roads, then on something that lies between asphalt and a cross route. You will not hear any complaints from me. So I give a "yes" for this race. But then without neutralisation. The standstill came at a moment we were giving it full gas.

Said Wout Van Aert.

We should not forget that the race was won by the Walloon (then) stagiair for Wanty Groupe Gobert Robin Stenuit! He outsprinted a rider who  has made a name for himself since ... Mr Oliver Naesen...

But Naesen's post-race comment is very interesting in light of what we've seen from him since:
Quote
I already knew that Stenuit was faster than I was.
Same certitude for Robin Stenuit:
Quote
I knew that I was faster than Naesen was and just kept taking turn along. Then I even started the sprint from far away and all in all I could hold him off quite comfortably.


It's amazing when you think that last year Oliver Naesen outsprinted Sep Vanmarcke, Jasper Stuyven and Jens Keukeleire at the Belgian Nats. You'd wonder if Robin Stenuit could do the same !!!

http://www.schaalsels.be/uploads/pers2015/20150831_GVA_Stenuit_VanAert.pdf

Last year the route was made harder: 34 cobble km and 33 of them on dirt roads compared to 30 and 19 resp. in 2015. Besides Ben Simons experienced a 6-rider per team limit rule. I don't know if the experience will be extended this year.

Baptiste Planckaert initiated the decisive 11-man breakaway with 60km to go. With 25km to go Stijn Steels attacked but was countered by Wout Van Aert alone. A small incident between both riders made Van Aert set foot on the ground and lost time and so 6 riders came back with him and joined Steels. Wout Van Aert attacked on the last dirt road section and won solo ahead of Timothy Dupont and Stijn Steels.



His win got widely known in Belgium as he was awarded a "Black Angus" calf from an organic farming factory "De Biopolder" and wanted to have it as meat.:( Since that was not the plan, and he has no know-how about farming (his uncle and grandpa do) the calf's life was saved. :) Some animal-protection charities such as Gaia or animal loving Flemish actors like Frank Bomans tried to dissuade him. Eventually the animal was left in his farm and Wout was considering the matter after the next cyclocross season. I have no news of what happened to the calf since. Would love to. :)

From a Gazet van Antwerpen Article on 5 September 2016

In 2017, Wout was on his way to winning back to back but after a last kilometer attack, he was caught by Taco Van der Hoorn alone who nailed it, a few weeks after having outsprinted him for second place to Mathieu Van der Poel at Dwars door het Hageland, while Taco is now winning a stage at the Lowlands Tour.



Nature - Countryside - Village - Cobbles - Gravel - Wind - Wonderful Locations - Start & Finish in Merksem

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  • « Last Edit: August 20, 2018, 09:01 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)

    LukasCPH

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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #1 on: August 18, 2018, 17:26 »
    I understand your outrage, and I agree to a point.

    But: The gravel (sometimes mud) madness wasn't part of the real history of Schaal Sels, only having been introduced the last three years. So in a way, the race returns to its roots, doesn't it?
    While the gravel/mud madness is carried over into a new race that gets a crazy, English name.
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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #2 on: August 18, 2018, 17:34 »
    and with the new "Great War Remembrance Race" the other week, "Antwerp Port Epic" even sounds like a good name :fp
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  • "If this is cycling, I am a banana"

    Echoes

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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #3 on: August 19, 2018, 22:09 »
    Correct! Dirt roads are not a tradition at the Schaal Sels but most probably for the very first editions in the 1920's when they were the norm for about every race. As far as I know, cobbles have always been part of the race, though, but this did not prevent pre-2015 editions to regularly end in bunch sprints.

    However, the new 2015 route, despite the incident in the maize field, had the advantage to draw media attention to one of the oldest Belgian races in the calendar, making it more spectacular and preventing bunch sprints. In fairness, also to draw my own attention back to it. Besides the fact that route are changing every three years does not help identifying. A classic needs route stability over the years. So does a semi-classic.

    I didn't know about the "Great War Rememberance Race" but the port of Antwerp is now officially referred to with its English name "Port of Antwerp" (on the off website and in newspaper ads among others), in the Dutch language: https://www.portofantwerp.com/language  (While the Antwerp mayor is the Flemish N-VA separatist Bart De Wever; so a nationalist who pretends to defend "Flemish identity" by using a foreign language to describe the greatest industry in his town). So the race's English name comes natural. :facepalm

    One thing makes me laugh though. In French "Porc-épic" means "porcupines". Up for nice puns.  :lol
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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #4 on: August 20, 2018, 02:54 »
    Correct! Dirt roads are not a tradition at the Schaal Sels but most probably for the very first editions in the 1920's when they were the norm for about every race.  . . .

    Going back 100 years to find a similarity in routes - phuh. Cycling has changed so much there is no comparison. However, I find myself approving of the current trend toward including more gravel and dirt in routes. After all, this is what makes the spring classics so fun - their unpredictability! Throw a little gravel and dirt in, and you definitely add unpredictability!

    BTW, :fp = colon fp. THIS one I can remember. We have some rather unique smilies, and I can never get them all. Maybe I need to start writing them down in a journal so I can refer to them. Like :Daotec. Didn't work, see? But I know that one is out there!
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  • . . .He had the bit between his teeth, and he loiked the taste, mate . . .

    Echoes

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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #5 on: August 22, 2018, 08:28 »
    Please, could you have respect for the OP and remain on-topic. I'm no moderator but it's not really nice for me...  :angel
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #6 on: August 22, 2018, 22:02 »
    Smiley stuff outsourced to Updated Smileys & User Selection.
    :)
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  • Echoes

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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #7 on: August 23, 2018, 10:44 »
    Thank you.  :cool

    So apparently shop owners and merchants in Merksem like it to have the race back in and around Merksem (with a loop to Deurne, apparently). The café owner on the video clip seems looking forward to it, expect his terrace to be full and wants to raise a tent (if I understood correctly his terrible Antwerp/Campine dialect.  :D).
    https://atv.be/nieuws/video-handelaars-tevreden-dat-schaal-sels-weer-helemaal-van-merksem-is-64189

    Apparently also the Schaal Sels will still be live on ATV like in previous years. So I again expect an ATV stream again. However it'll be less enjoyable than on dirt roads (and I won't be free though).
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  • Echoes

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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #8 on: August 26, 2018, 12:43 »
    Race is live at 4pm CET today on ATV website: https://atv.be/sport  :cool
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  • Echoes

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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #9 on: August 30, 2018, 12:38 »
    So as expected a bunch sprint was the outcome with a win for Timothy Dupont ahead of his teammate stagiaire Afdan De Decker who seems like a really promising talent.  ;)

    I suggest we use this thread for the "Antwerp Port Epic" next Sunday. Race is also live to follow on ATV 3pm CET. https://atv.be/nieuws/wielerwedstrijd-antwerp-port-epic-door-berendrecht-en-zandvliet

    207km long including 30 of them on dirt road and 32 of them on cobbles.

    Start and finish at the Antwerpse Havenhuis, horrible building with the diamond dome: https://www.tridonic.fr/fr/app-2017-havenhuis-be.asp



    Ben Simons hoped for the presence for the royal cyclocross duet but Corendon is not present: so no Mathieu Van der Poel. Wout Van Aert however is on the provisional startlist along with last year's Schaal Sels winner Taco Van der Hoorn. I would like to see what Quinten Hermans can do on that course after his amazing Tour of Wallonia.

    https://www.procyclingstats.com/race/antwerp-port-epic/2018/startlist
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #10 on: August 30, 2018, 21:53 »
    Start and finish at the Antwerpse Havenhuis, horrible building with the diamond dome: https://www.tridonic.fr/fr/app-2017-havenhuis-be.asp
    The old building in itself looks nice.
    The modern thing on its own would be alright.
    The combination is atrocious. :fp
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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #11 on: September 03, 2018, 08:05 »
    I haven't had the time to watch it yet, but here is the full ~5 hour broadcast on Youtube (race starts at ~1:30)

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  • L'arri

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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #12 on: September 03, 2018, 10:24 »
    The old building in itself looks nice.
    The modern thing on its own would be alright.
    The combination is atrocious. :fp

    Belgium could easily hold its own Carbuncle Cup but the organisers would struggle to handle the sheer volume of candidates.
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    LukasCPH

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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #13 on: September 03, 2018, 21:38 »
    Belgium could easily hold its own Carbuncle Cup but the organisers would struggle to handle the sheer volume of candidates.
    There's a Social Media account called Ugly Belgian Houses, too. Says it all.
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  • L'arri

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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #14 on: September 04, 2018, 12:06 »
    There's a Social Media account called Ugly Belgian Houses, too. Says it all.

    Same guy. :)
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    Re: 93rd Schaal Sels
    « Reply #15 on: September 05, 2018, 09:16 »
    Shame about the race name and concept change because it was a nice race in itself. Van Schip's crash could have changed it all but Jean-Pol Van Poppel was late to realise that he never could get back to Van Keirsbulck and the Roompot guys behind were late to start chasing behind. Not really nice by Wout Van Aert to let the sprint for second go.

    I would also laugh at all these riders cutting a turn on the grass, sometimes it looked like they were cutting it on a private property but I might be mistaken.  :D

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