Cobblestone Classics

In America, Thanksgiving Day presents an opportunity to gather with friends and family, eat some turkey, watch some football.  The football games of that day have such a comfort food factor, that the teams often take advantage of the marketing opportunity evoke memories of the past by wearing throwback jerseys.

In Vlaanderen (Flemish Belgium) the Sunday of the Tour of Flanders (De Ronde van Vlaanderen to locals) would be the rough equivalent to Thanksgiving Day, Super Bowl Sunday, and Master’s press conference Monday, all rolled into one.  It’s a day to gather with friends, drink plenty of Bier and watch some of the most hellacious cycling in the world.

Last year, Belgian team Quickstep, whose flooring many of you may walk on every day, attempted to evoke Belgians’ own memories of the past by wearing a vintage kit to commemorate their home race.  Now Quickstep wears a generally conservative look, especially compared to the look of the squad the team was formed from, Italian outfit Mapei (who’s mastic and grout, incidentally, may very well be holding up your shower or backsplash tiles.)  However, even as they rode to the start in their throwbacks, the UCI, roughly the equivalent of the NFL or MLB league office, nixed their plans.

Quick Step almost prohibited from starting Flanders

By Brecht Decaluwé –

Team Quick Step
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

The Quick Step team, with its local favorites Tom Boonen and Stijn Devolder, almost didn’t start the Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday morning after they chose a vintage team kit that the UCI hadn’t approved.

Following the example set by the legendary Mario Cipollini, the Belgian Quick Step team created a special jersey to wear during its home Spring Classic.

Team manager Patrick Lefevre had expected that the UCI wouldn’t like the team’s action, but he figured Quick Step would simply be penalized 2,500 Swiss Francs fine if they raced in the new kit. Then Lefevre learned that the UCI planned to prohibit Quick Step from starting in Brugge.

“I can’t understand it,” said Lefevre to Het Nieuwsblad. “It shows the conservative vision within the governing cycling body. With this mentality, it’s no wonder we’re not attracting new sponsors in cycling.”

Quick Step showed up at the start in their vintage kit for sign in, but then the team rode back to its bus and changed back into the normal Quick Step kit in time for the start.

Indeed, the aforementioned Mario Cipollini’s team Saeco had been known in the past to wear special one-day jerseys either to make a statement about their bike, or to celebrate the 2099th anniversary of the birth of a certain Roman ruler who wound up lending his name to a tasty salad.  In none of those cases was Saeco prohibited from starting the race, only fined a small amount that their sponsor gladly paid for the added publicity.

So Quickstep was forced to ride the race in their standard kit, which didn’t stop Belgian Stijn Devolder from winning his second edition in a row.  And when the time came for Stijn to climb atop the podium, he had smartly changed back into his first outfit of the day.

Not all was lost with the throwbacks, however.  When it came time for the team to design their kit for 2010, they didn’t look far.


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