Just like every year, the weekend in February marks the beginning of the real racing season and just like every year, that Sunday is marked with the race, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. There are a few tired legs after the Omloop but many more eager riders trying to impress their DSes for the upcoming classics. Like many of Belgium's races, KBK has been raced since 1945 and for not having a ton of hills or cobbles, this race is surprisingly almost always won out of a break. Since '97, there have been only 2 races decided by a field sprint ('07 & '97 w/ Boonen and Museeuw). But the attacking nature of this race isn't the best thing about it...
To the Flip!
What is this K-B-K you speak of?
The winner of this race gets a stuffed donkey (it used to be even better with a donkey head but nevertheless). For those of you that are unaware, the citizens of Kuurne are nicknamed "ezels" or donkeys. The story goes that the people of Kuurne were growers of vegetables and would take them to Kortrijk for the big market. They would set off very early in the morning and the donkey-pulled carts would clattering along, annoying the still slumbering Kortrijk peoples. They would get so annoyed with the noise of the wheels and braying donkeys that they would exclaim, "It's those asses from Kuurne again!!"...and the name stuck.
Anyways, enough with the history lesson...The course is pretty standard by Belgian Classic terms. 200km of wind, possible rain, roundabouts and some cobbled climbs thrown in. The KBK course doesn't have any påve sectors other than the climbs but with the combination of the wind and legs wanting to be tested, it doesn't matter much.
The course goes from Kuurne, heading east through Vlaanderen but doesn't even get within 20km of Brussels. The race hits Ninove takes a right turn south and even goes into Wallonie for a section and makes the turn back towards Kuurne. (It even goes onto the Ronde van Vlaanderenstraat outside Kluisbergen). On the way back into Kuurne is where the majority of the climbs are taken in. Once back into town, there are 2 finishing loops that go around the Kuurne-Harelbeke-Kortrijk area and then to the finish, 193km in total.
The climbs for the race (links to profile or picture of the climb):
Edelareberg (a mere 28km into the race) La Houppe or Hoppeberg (89km)
Kanarieberg (97 km) Nieuwe Kruisberg (102 km)
Oude Kwaremont (106 km) Knoteberg or Cote de Trieu (122km)
Tiegemberg (134 km) Nokereberg (145 km)
Who is in Contention?
Good Question...this race is really a crapshoot. So many variables can allow the stars to fill the podium or some B-grade riders get a nice result. The weather will definitely be playing a factor, it might not be the same as last year, but it is going to be close. Predicted temperature is going to be a high of 5 Celsius with a wind chill of 2...and it will be raining...and there will be 20 kph winds. It is going to be a good one.
So if we remember back to last year, the majority of the stars pulled out so as not to come down with sickness...and it could be a repeat of last year. Since Hushovd isn't on the startlist, he won't have to worry about scarfing down more Snickers bars this year.
Startlist can be found here
Actually, just visit the website if your curious about a more specific route guide & other info
So what will happen? That is for the race to decide but, especially with the weather, I'm thinking a Hayden Roulston v. Dom Rollin at the end...and out of a breakaway too. Others that could possibly be there are Mr. Bobbie Traksel, Jens Keurkeleire, Seb. Turgot, Ian Stannard & Jez Hunt for SKY, and of course a few QS and Lotto riders will be ever present. If it is anything like last year's hurricane, it will be yet another classic K-B-K.