"Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride" Eddy Merckx

The Koppenberg spares no one

There are some editions of the Tour of Flanders in which the winner, no matter how heroic his exploits may be, is not the one that most people end up talking about. Such was the case on 5 April 1987. Claude Criquielion was the first one to cross the finish line that day in Meerbeke, but the name most discussed was that of Jesper Skibby.

On that day, the young Danish rider, who at the time was in the middle of his second professional season, began making his way up the onerous Koppenberg after a long, 180-kilometre breakaway. What followed was one of the most bizarre and dramatic occurrences in the history of Flanders’ Finest. Thoroughly worn out and out of juice, Skibby was ultimately forced to relinquish the gutter on the side of the road in favour of the cobblestone surface. At precisely that moment, he was passed by the car of the race director, who was clearing the way for the oncoming peloton. Not only did the car hit the near-stationary Skibby and send him none-too-gracefully into the cobblestones, it then brazenly rode right over Skibby’s bicycle and proceeded on up the Koppenberg. With his bicycle a wreck and consternation all around, it marked the end of this Tour of Flanders for Jesper Skibby – and for the Koppenberg. Following this incident, the climb was eliminated from the course for many years, and was only reincorporated in 2002 after the required maintenance work was performed.

View the incident here:

Photo: ©Patrick Verhoest

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