I’m not exactly sure when Koos took the lead from our long-time leader Dominique (perhaps it was this 300km effort from a week or so ago that did the job) but last Saturday last week Koos completed his 17th Tour of Flanders sportive. Whilst a fine effort (as I know by crawling round the same sportive myself on the same day!), repeating the same sportive 17 times even with course variations over the years does not increase the size of your cluster… fortunately Koos had the answer. As the /next day/’s ride title explained “Je bént in Vlaanderen, je hebt je fiets bij je, je vrouw is tóch niet thuis en het is prachtig weer …” (Roughly something like: “You are in Flanders and you have the bike but not the wife and the weather is perfect”), Koos was able to knock off a huge number of new tiles to the west of Brussels as part of a 200km ride. It is slightly frightening to know that this standard – a 200km ride the day after a sportive modelled on one of cycling’s Monuments is what you need to get to number 1!
Koos is a rider for whom the max cluster is a much better target than max square. The “diagonal” southwest->northeast Dutch coastline as well as numerous big canals means making a enormous square that is possible in Belgium or England simply isn’t on in the Netherlands. Instead Koos has pieced together a cluster that runs from almost Lille in Northern France to Groningen in the far north of the Netherlands – a cluster that measures ~430km along its “fattest” point.
Koos’s cluster is shown in blue and now covers nearly all of the Netherlands, as well as stretching to the Belgian cities of Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and Liege. For reference the max squares shown in the middle of the map are themselves 41×41 but look small by comparison.
Many congratulations to Koos for his phenomenal effort.