This weekend’s races at Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne mark the beginning of the classics season in professional cycling. It also marks the renewal of the sport’s best rivalry, between QuickStep and Omega Pharma-Lotto.
But what’s that? You’d like to know some of the backstory behind this grudge match? Well, have I got a chart for you:
click for huge versions – buy a meatspace copy
Yes, that’s the “route” of the rivalry, so to speak, laid out over a map of Belgium, running from Oostende to Roubaix (or the French border very near it), with each province representing a different year. I simplified the borders in a few places—Belgian fans, I apologize for messing up your map.
I had initially planned to make this more data driven but for a variety of reasons older results can be hard to find/less reliable, especially for the smaller classics. I also tried to focus mainly on Roubaix and the more major Belgian races (they are Belgian teams and this a map of Belgium, after all) and limit the storyline to other events only where the teams clashed directly.
Plus, rivalries aren’t about numbers—just go back in time to 2003 and ask a Red Sox fan. And which do you think ads more spice to the conflict: QuickStep’s edge in Dwars door Vlanderen wins, or the mattress ad that featured McEwen’s headbutt?
thoughts on “QuickStep vs. Lotto – A Classic Rivalry”
Cosmo, this is absolutely awesome. I’ve sent this post to every Belgian person that I know, so that they can know the history of Vlaams v. Wallonie and also QSI v. Lotto. Excellent timing, too, just in time for de Omloop.
Gilbert excapes? …typo in the last stop before the finish.
No, dude, he EXcaped. You clearly didn’t see the race.
I may or may not choose to fix that later.
I’m really looking forward to Gilbert having a good classics season, or else Lotto is really going down. In teams of GC contention, it’s quite a downfall from having Cadel Evans and Thomas Dekker on your team to having Jurgen VDB and Daniel Moreno (LOL). So, their only hope is a good classics season.
Genius, back on form Cosmo. I’m glad its only some rights reserved, because I have a good idea (that has just X ka pd) in the bloom, to write some more super rivalry. I think if we thrown in compulsory feed stations for the riders; beer tents, with frites with mayonnaise, and we have a good basis for a Belgian Grand Tour. Days of cobbles, beers & chips all the spring classics end on end and more. I’ll need to confer to the periodic table for a racing, but a date in early northern winter would be perfect, and a GT that LA will never poison with his presence to boot.
I fixed that spelling thing.
You are a crazy person – keep it up!
Stellar! You’re the PVP of bike related graphic design.
i never did understand Lefevere’s criticism of VDB after the ’03 edition of Flanders. 2nd was a great result after a few years in the ‘cycling wilderness’.
i remember watching the sprint finish with Van Petegem. Van Pet was never going to lose it.
you smash yourself for 6-7 hours over the toughest terrain belgium has to offer, and your DS comes out and has a crack at you afterwards. poor form on Lefevere’s part.
@Psychlist: The issue in the 03 Flanders is not how the sprint was played out, but rather how nothing happened between the Kappel on the Muur and the sprint at the finish. In this view, I tend to agree with Lefevere’s assessment that VDB didn’t try hard enough (or one may even argue that he wasn’t riding to win).
It’s not just a simple flat straightaway between the descent off the Muur and the finish line, and a strong rider can make a huge difference there (see cf. Tafi in 02 and Boonen in 05). Sure, the tactical advantage does increase with more contenders in the front group.
But increasing the scope beyond just one race, Lefevere really destroyed VDB’s morale. Maybe VDB was just too happy to be competitive again and being assured a podium spot. Maybe he didn’t want to risk it all by being too aggressive. But rather than nurturing what little bit of confidence that was growing in him, Lefevere decided to crack the whip a bit too hard.
Awesome chart cosmo. Time consuming to create. Well done mate.