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By Barry Boyce,
CyclingRevealed
Historian



 

Top 20 All Time Major Classics #16

Tour of Flanders 1980: Pollentier Outfoxes the Favorites

CR Timeline 1980

The Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen) is one of cycling's 5 monuments. NO race means more to Belgium 's Flemish riders than the Ronde. Brutal cobbled climbs, narrow roads, foul weather, and huge crowds are a staple of the Belgian Classic.

The start list in 1980 included all the great classics riders of the time and all had ambitions for the victory. An unusually mild Flemish day greeted the riders at the start in Sint-Niklaas (halfway between Gent and Antwerp ). The peloton cruised into the infamous Koppenberg intact. Untimely crashes by 2 pre-race favorites took Flanderian sprinter Freddy Maertens and Gerrie Knetemann (Hol) out of contention.

Elite groups began to form as the peloton split into small groups. Italy 's Francesco Moser took control of the race through Geraardsbergen. Moser topped the Muur de Grammont first with diminutive but tenacious Marcel Pollentier (Bel) close behind. Hennie Kuiper (Hol) struggled and lost contact with the 2 leaders. Only World Road Race champion Jan Raas (Hol) came across to the breakaway at the foot of the final climb, the famous Bosberg.

The winning breakaway had formed with 2 very strong classics riders and a small Grand Tour climber. With 23 km to the finish in Meerbeke most experts had Pollentier watching Moser and Raas fighting it out for the win. But the Belgian knew this was the winning break and this WAS his home Classic!

Pollentier had to avoid a sprint finish and drop his two companions. He launched a series of attacks forcing Moser to chase. Once he was caught the Belgian attacked again. The relentless attacks wore the chasers down and with 500 meters to go Pollentier made one final move. Moser and Raas looked to each other to chase. That moment of hesitation was enough and Pollentier sailed across the finish line for the victory.

Flanders March 30, 1980
265 Km St. Niklaas to Meerbeke/Ninove

1. Michel POLLENTIER (Bel) 6h41'59"

2. Franceso Moser (Ita)

3. Jan Raas (Hol)

Starters: 179
Finishers: 46
Average Speed: 39.888 km/h

 

 

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