I’ll never forget the day. Spring 1995. Driving south on route 309 having just left the local Performance Bicycle, the only place near me that sold Velonews. This was still the time when Velonews read more like a newspaper than a magazine. Big sheets of newsprint; ink marks on your fingers. Pearl Jam blaring from my Sony Discman, I looked over to quickly scan the cover. “Ballerini Wins Het Volk.” The headline might have been something different; it probably made mention of “the North” or used a pun to indicate the weather or the terrain. But the gist was the same. Ballerini and Edwig Van Hooydonck graced the cover, riding for Mapei-GB and Novell respectively. Their names alone invoke the passion of all riders from these two great cycling nations. Edwig, the Boss of the Bosberg, was nearing the end of a brilliant career. Franco, a classics king about to be crowned, was nearing the zenith of his. He would win his first Roubaix later that spring.
Needless to say, I was hooked. It was the beginning of what would soon become my favorite part of the season. How fitting to start another new endeavor at this time.
Come back later for some thoughts on this weekend’s events.