by Cillian Kelly
which is better? winning a race or sex? hard to decide? Eddy Planckaert found the perfect solution…
Winning a race is the ultimate goal for any cyclist. It is the culmination of the work of dozens of people, team managers, masseurs, domestiques and of course the winning cyclist. Some cyclists spend their entire careers in the service of more capable team leaders and never get to experience what it feels like to cross the line in first position.
Thus, it is up to the riders who win the races to celebrate at the moment of victory and to savour the moment as best they can.
Eddy Planckaert was a classics specialist whose career spanned almost the entire breadth of the 1980s and into the 90s. As cyclists go, Planckaert got to taste victory more so than many others.
If you ask the Belgian which victory he enjoyed the most throughout his years at the top, he might tell you about the time he won Paris-Roubaix in 1990 when he beat the Canadian Steve Bauer by less than a millimetre.
Or, he might tell you about the time he won his first ever stage of the Tour de France in his home country when he crossed the line first in Zolder in 1981. In doing so, he joined his two brothers Willy and Walter on the list of Tour stage winners.
Or indeed, he might tell you about the time he won four stages in a row at the 1982 Vuelta a Espana.
But if Eddy Planckaert told you that any of these victories was the one he most enjoyed, Eddy Planckaert would be lying to you.
It was the 1988 Tour of Flanders and having come so close to winning in 1982, Planckaert had only one thing on his mind. He had a strong ADR team which included Dirk Demol, Fons de Wolf and a young Johan Museeuw. But as the race unfolded, Planckaert became more and more isolated from his team mates at the front of the race.
Sean Kelly attacked on the Oude Kwaremont and brought 13 other riders with him including the likes of Phil Anderson, Charly Mottet, Adrie van der Poel and Planckaert himself.
But then with only 14km remaining, the Australian Phil Anderson attacked and brought only Van der Poel and Planckaert along for company. The trio forged forward as Kelly desperately tried to chase them down as the race he would never win was slipping away from him again.
Planckaert describes the remainder of the race in a book by Ivan Heylen entitled ‘Het geslacht Planckaert’ (The Planckaert Family):
“I saw to my surprise that Van der Poel couldn’t follow us at the Bosberg. From that moment on Phil Anderson tried everything. He accelerated. He made me several offers. He would have given his life if I had let him win. He really couldn’t understand why I didn’t accept. But I said to my ex-teammate from Panasonic that we should go for it. He understood.
“The finale was incredible. He kept on accelerating, one time I thought he was gone and that was the only time in my life that I passed the limits. When you’re completely worn out, thinking you might drop dead from fatigue, you reach another dimension.
“Suddenly it seemed I was floating over the road. It’s a bit embarrassing to say it, but I ejaculated, and not just a little bit. A hundred metres later I was at Phil’s wheel again and I knew I would beat him. I had reached a divine state.”
So if ever you ask Eddy Planckaert which victory he enjoyed the most in his career? It’s safe to say that he enjoyed winning the 1988 Tour of Flanders more than any rider has enjoyed winning any race in the history of cycling.
After all, there are no prizes for coming second.
Eddy wins the 1990 P-R