Trailer: The Lionel of Flanders
Four years ago, Lionel and Simon went to Flanders to see the traditional preparation races that lead up to the Tour of Flanders. The result was a five-part series for Friends of the Podcast called The Lionel of Flanders. (Thanks to producer Tom Whalley for coming up with the title).
The order of the races may have changed since but with the Classics approaching again we've decided to add the series to the Friends of the Podcast feed this week, starting on Wednesday morning.
Join them as they explore Flanders, discovering the culture of the region and the history of the races as well as heading over the border to Roubaix to the famous velodrome.
Wednesday: Episode 1 – Dwars Door Vlaanderen
After checking-in to their floating hotel in Kortrijk, Lionel and Simon head from Roeselare to Waregem to watch the 72nd edition of Dwars Door Vlaanderen. We learn about Flandrian cycling from a man who has lived there for more than 40 years after moving from Australia to chase his professional racing dream, and from a former winner of the race. They also find out why Zulte Waregem FC play at the Regenboogstadion (the Rainbow Stadium).
Run time: 37mins
Thursday: Episode 2 – The Road to Roubaix
With a day off between races, Lionel and Simon head over the border into France to the André Pétrieux velodrome in Roubaix. On the way, they stop in the Rue du Dronckaert, an anonymous stretch of the road on the border and scene of one of the most seismic events in cycling history. After a couple of laps of the bumpy concrete track, Lionel has a look round the famous stone showers.
Run time: 20 mins
Friday: Episode 3 – Harelbeke
It's time for a race that's come to be thought of as the Little Tour of Flanders, using as it does many of the same roads and cobbled hills as De Ronde. Criss-crossing the Flandrian countryside in Simon's VW Transporter, they try to keep up with the riders.
Run time: 30 mins
Saturday: Episode 4 – Literary Flanders
Lionel meets up with two authors who have got under the skin of Flandrian cycling culture. Harry Pearson, who bears more than a passing resemblance to the two-time Tour of Flanders winner Edwig Van Hooydonck, has written about Belgium before in a book called A Tall Man in a Low Land. He's spent the spring in Gent researching a book about the region and its relationship with cycling. Then it's time for a delicious Belgian beer and a chat with Edward Pickering about his book De Ronde, a vivid history of the Tour of Flanders.
Run time: 26 mins
Sunday: Episode 5 – In Flanders Fields
The final part of our series takes Lionel and Simon to the cobbled Kemmelberg, for so long a feature of Gent-Wevelgem, and the Plugstreets – gravelled farm tracks in the battlefields that saw so much conflict during World War One.
Run time: 24 mins