Big news from the nether-nether world...
Nick Nuyens has hung up his cleats, owing to a lack of contract offers, making him the first Tour of Flanders winner to stop racing since Steffen Wesemann's 2007 retirement. Nuyens is an interesting case, as all these guys are. He resides firmly in the neighborhood of Flanders-Only Flemings, for local cyclists who excel at home but in a teasing way, and who definitely do NOT go on to any sort of overseas greatness. Mind you, this is not the same neighborhood as Peter Van Petegem, wherein reside cyclists of Flemish descent who fundamentally kick ass in Flanders. That's more of a gated community.
No, Nuyens lives among those one-time Monument winners, who had the skill to win on a good day -- and if you hang around long enough you might get a really good day -- but not the pure power of a top-shelf cobbles champion. Wesemann lives there. Devolder does too, in a duplex on a lovely corner lot. So does Ballan, though he's not seen at home much. Leif Hoste made a few offers on a place, but they fell through at the last minute.
Anyway, cheers to Nuyens, who made a good run of it as one of the many graduates of the Patrick Lefevre School of Flemish Classic Racing. Nuyens actually got ten of 18 career wins during his Quick Step days, but whose greatest run occurred in Saxo Bank colors and which reached the sport's highest peaks (Dwars and Flanders), which in turn joins him to another illustrious group, riders whose strangely dormant careers were reawakened under Bjarne Riis. And with that, I think I'll shut up, because I'm not sure I'll like where the conversation goes from there.
From the category of Things I Did Not Expect to Ever Write: Nairo Quintana will be tackling the cobbles next spring when he takes part in Dwars door Vlaanderen and the E3 Prijs Harelbeke. I guess a little genuflection by people like me in the direction of ASO is in order here, because screaming about how everyone should ride the classics is one thing, and arranging stages of the Tour de France that forces everyone to ride the classics is another. Quintana's choice of races is not surprising -- Dwars and E3 are in the 200-km range, which is all he'll be up for in that early(ish) phase of his Tour buildup, and not as threatening as de Ronde or of course Paris-Roubaix. They also block his participation in the Volta a Catalunya, but do not prevent him from racing the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, a more suitable tune-up for a proper climber, which itself conflicts with Flanders and Roubaix. Oh, and lest ye wonder, no, the Tour de France cobbles are not on par with the worst of Paris-Roubaix, so tuning up for them at Dwars and E3 is adequate.
The UCI Cyclocross World Cup competition will arrive in North America next season after all! CrossVegas seems to be first on the list, and an event in Montreal next. The reason this tidbit falls in the Flanders Desk Notes column is because this is the future location of most of the complaints about this decision by the UCI. Both races are expected to take place in September, which is well before the traditionally important events happen in Europe. However, if this is what modialisation of the sport looks like, my guess is that it will take hold. Oh, and CrossVegas is a grassy crit. But taken in tandem, this line of critique resembles the old joke about two ladies at a Catskills resort, where one of them says the food is terrible, and the other says "yeah, and such small portions."
Mathieu van der Poel will race the World CX championships at the Elite level. That is all.
Oh, and the majority of Flemish fans voted to tut-tut at poor Klaas Vantornout for his last-lap stumble, despite the fact that it didn't change the race in any perceptible way and despite the fact that none of the racers themselves seemed overly bothered. Still... it's an outrage! But not among Klaas fans, whom we will be hearing from shortly, via Patrick Verhoest.
All for now...