As we get closer to the certain drama that will unfold this Sunday at the 98th running of Ronde van Vlaanderen, we take you back with Yuzuru Sunada who has been shooting the great classic for about 20 years. There’s plenty of recognizable faces in these pictures full of pain, agony, heartbreak, exhaustion and glory. And, if you win and experience the glory, there’s no doubt your name will be remembered forever.
• Five people have won Flanders three times: Achiel Buysse (Belgian, 1940, 1941, 1943), Fiorenzo Magni (Italian, 1949, 1950, 1951), Eric Leman (Belgian, 1970, 1972, 1973), Johan Museeuw (Belgian, 1993, 1995, 1998), and Tom Boonen (Belgian, 2005, 2006, 2012).
• The top three countries: Belgians have won the race 68 times, while the Italians have 10 victories, and the Dutch have 9.
• Twelve riders have won both Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in the same year. Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen have achieved this twice.
• André Tchmil is the oldest winner of the race: 37 years, 2 months, 11 days.
• Six riders have won the race two years in a row.
• The longest stretch that the Belgian’s went without a victory was when Fiorenzo Magni won the race three years in a row (1949-1951).
• The longest streak of wins for the Belgians was from 1924-1948. The streak would have been longer but Heiri Suter won the race in 1923. He also won Paris-Roubaix that year, becoming the first rider to win both monuments.
On Sunday, will Fabian Cancellara get his third victory and join the exclusive club? Or will Tom Boonen create his own club with his fourth victory? Or will it be someone else like Peter Sagan? Or another Belgian? Or someone from a country we don’t expect?
All images by Yuzuru Sunada.