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Let me share with you an interview from last year of the oldest Omloop winner still alive : René Van Meenen ! Winner in 1963 He's now aged 90 since 14 January and he's still the only man from Ghent to ever win the Omloop. You know that this race was formerly known as Ghent-Ghent but now the finish is no longer in Ghent. Between 1996 and 2007, it was Ghent-Lokeren and now since 2018 it's been Ghent-Meerbeke/Ninove. So being the only "Gentenaar" to win the Omloop was quite a feat. He's actually from Drongen which is now a part of the town of Ghent.

He was asked whether the Omloop was the greatest victory in his career.

Sure ! It is and remains a classic. I also won a stage at the Tour of Spain but winning in your own area as "Gentenaar/Drongenaar", it's still something more special.

Did Flanders already "live for" the race as much as they do today?

Absolutely. Weeks before, you'd already talk about it. Predictions were made. My supporters thought that I could be close in that edition but winning it still something else. That wasn't easy.

What do you remember from that Omloop?

It was really cold that day. It had been freezing -4°C and here or there you could have snow alongside the road. I did like that weather. I knew the route very well and knew where I had to be. In the morning I cycled from Drongen to the startline and realised I had a good feeling.

Were you the team leader at the start?

Not at all. I had to work for Benoni Beheyt but the way the race unfolded had it that I was in front. The peloton was broken into two parts following a crash in Aalter. I was looking for my leader and he was nowhere to see. So I was in the lead group. In the finale, we were with the four of us on entering Ghent and I could win in the sprint.

Were you a sprinter?

No. First and foremost I raced on power, crushing the pedals but I also raced with my mind. They said : "René Van Meenen, the head and the legs"

Is it true that this was the first televised edition of the Omloop?

Yes, the full final hour could be watched. It was a kind of test edition for the Worlds that were to be held in Ronse

Was their a special celebration?

I could go to the Town Hall. In 1954 after my victory in the Tour of Egypt, I could make a tour through Drongen in a cabrio. That was very special. There also was a fanfare but that day was freezing cold, so that the fingers of the trumpetists were too numb to play and the fanfare consisted of only a fistful of drummers.

I have no time to translate the whole interview but what is nice is that he still rode 40 to 50 km when not raining, at the time of that interview (that was before the pandemic) at age 89. He likes stopping his ride at a local pub for a drink and a talk. Two years before (so three years ago) he bought a brand new modern bike.

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