This DVD from World Cycling
Productions is a two-for-one package: we get coverage of the 2002 editions of
two major one-day bicycle races, the semi-classic Ghent-Wevelgem and the
classic Omloop Het Volk. These two Belgian races attract a stellar field of
professional cyclists from all over the world, vying for victory on the cobbled
roads and short but steep hills of the Belgian countryside.
The treatment of the two races
here is outstanding, with two full hours of well-edited coverage for each race.
For both Het Volk and Ghent Wevelgem, Paul Sherwen interviews a number of
racers before the start, providing an excellent introduction to who's who in
the race, as well as getting a glimpse of their plans for the race. Sherwen
also follows up with interesting post-race interviews, not just with the winner
but also with other key riders, making for a very informative presentation. For
the race commentary itself, Sherwen is joined by Phil Liggett.
Het Volk comes first in the
calendar, though it's listed second in the DVD set because it's not as famous
as Ghent-Wevelgem; I'd recommend that viewers watch Het Volk first, as it's
more enjoyable to watch the races in chronological order.
Omloop Het Volk
The earliest Belgian classic,
the 2002 Het Volk took place on March 2; this early in the season, the riders
are often fresh out of training camps without a lot of races under their belt,
so Het Volk's results are a pointer toward later important classics like the Tour of Flanders.
The 2002 Het Volk is an exciting edition of this race, with a number of great
contenders fighting it out throughout the race. The Belgian classics specialist
Peter van Petegem from the Lotto team is eager to take the race for a third
time, while the previous year's winner, Michele Bartoli, is keen to defend his
title, and others are ready to make a break for victory as well, including the
experienced Rolf Sörensen from Colnago and Mapei's Paolo Bettini.
This Het Volk offers a great
view of team tactics, as the crucial breakaway included several riders each
from several of the main teams, meaning that when the final push came, many of
the riders could count on tactical support from their teammates. Meanwhile,
back in the main peloton, the teams who had been left "out in the
cold" with no riders in the breakaway were pushing hard to catch up. With
several key climbs and cobbled sections, including the steep Molenberg, adding
spice to the mix, this Het Volk is interesting from start to finish.
Ghent-Wevelgem tends to be more
of a sprinter's race, because it is mainly flat, with the exception of a small
section of hills toward the finish. However, one of those hills is the brutal
Kemmelberg, which the Ghent-Wevelgem course actually climbs twice. On this
climb, the peloton is bound to break up, as the strongest riders try to split
off from the main pack and stage a breakaway to the finish. In the 2002 edition
of this race, taking place on April 10, the lead-in to the Kemmelberg is
actually more interesting than in other years, because a brutal headwind forces
the peloton to break up into several packs early on, each of which tries to
catch up and gain the lead before the crucial tactical launching point of the
A number of excellent riders
play key roles in this race, including U.S. Postal's George Hincapie, who,
after a disappointment in the 2002 Tour of Flanders,
is eager for a victory to springboard him to a win in the next important race
on the calendar, Paris-Roubaix. Classics star Johan Museeuw is in contention,
though he seems ready to support his teammate Fred Rodriquez (a U.S. rider) in
a winning move. Acqua & Sapone's superstar Mario Cipollini is also eager
for a record third win in Ghent-Wevelgem, but with a slightly weaker team than
in the past, he will be forced to rely more on his own strength to carry him to
Of the two races on this DVD,
Het Volk is the more exciting, but while Ghent-Wevelgem isn't quite as
gripping, it still offers a very enjoyable viewing experience.
This DVD is Region 0, playable on any NTSC-compatible DVD player and TV. In fact, all of World Cycling Productions' DVDs are Region 0, which is very appropriate given the international scope of the sport of cycling.
It's great to see WCP's race
coverage on DVD, as it looks much better than on VHS. The image is very good,
especially considering that it's completely taken from broadcast television
footage. The print is clean and noise-free, and is quite clear overall; colors
are bright, clean, and well defined, which is particularly important
considering that the riders are identified by their brightly colored team
jerseys. The image is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
The overall quality of the
Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is excellent, with both Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen's
commentary sounding clear and natural throughout the race. The excited shouts
of the spectators and the whirring of the riders' wheels as they pass by the
video cameras are also captured very well. During Sherwen's pre-race
introduction of Ghent-Wevelgem, his voice sounds a bit harsh, but fortunately
this is only the case in the introductory footage, not in the rest of the
The 2002 Ghent-Wevelgem and Het
Volk coverage is packaged in a two-disc set, conveniently with the full
Ghent-Wevelgem on one disc and the full Het Volk on the other. The two discs are
packaged neatly and securely in a slim single-wide keepcase.
The one thing I wish WCP would
change is its habit of plastering the name and image of the race winner all
over the DVD. Here we get the winners of both races on the cover of the DVD,
the disc art, and also in the main menu; the on-screen title also reveals the
winner. What's even more painful is that for Ghent-Wevelgem, the menu and cover
image reveals not just the winner, but also second and third places.
Personally, I enjoy watching the race coverage without knowing or being
reminded ahead of time who wins. I'd love to see slightly more neutral shots
used for the art, just so that the "live" experience could be
For special features, on the
second disc (Het Volk) there's a short promotional piece on Cycle Sport
magazine, which is published by World Cycling Productions. It's really cheesy,
and I do mean really cheesy, with enthusiastic "testimonials" from
Paul Sherwen and a harmonica-playing cameraman. On the bright side, we get to meet
a couple of writers for the magazine as well as famous race photographer Graham
Watson (very briefly). Further on the bright side, the magazine itself is very
good (I'm a subscriber).
The 2002 Ghent-Wevelgem /
Omloop Het Volk offers a very satisfying viewing experience for bicycle racing
fans. With a total of four hours of coverage (two hours for each race), we get
an in-depth look at the race that allows viewers to see all the attacking,
defending, counterattacking, and breakaways that make for an exciting race.
Both of the races hereare full of interesting racing action, especially Het
Volk, and offer great repeat viewing
value as well; this DVD set is highly recommended.