Eighty crack International professional cyclists left Brussels, May 8, on the first leg of the four-stage "Tour of Belgium" 1961.
Eighty crack International professional cyclists left Brussels, May 8, on the first leg of the four-stage "Tour of Belgium" 1961. They set out to cover the 234 kilometres about 146 miles - to Ostend.
There are seven Belgian teams and one Dutch team, often riders each. Favourite of the event is world cycling champion Rik van Looy (No. 1) of Belgium, leader of the Faoma team which includes German Fischerkollov (No.8) and Dutchman Piot van Est (No.9), C. Baunsoe (No. 21) of Denmark and Ronald Murray (No. 57) of Australia are riding in other Belgian teams.
All riders crossed Brussels in a group and started the race from a point on the road to Mons. For most of the distance, the field remained compact as a strong had wind ruled out surprise attacks. Then, at Mount Kemmel in Flanders, a steep and winding mountain course gave nine riders a chance to break away from the rest.
A few miles before the leg finish at Ostend, Armand Desmet (No. 3) of the favourite's team took a decisive lead to win the first stage. In a final spurt van Looy (No. 1) took second place. Three more stages to go to cover the total distance of 871 kilometres - 544 miles.