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A Doyenne Fable

Once upon a time...

In the late 1880s there were two cycling-mad friends in Liège, Belgium: Messrs. Beaunen and Counegôt. Beaunen was a larger guy, a classic rouleur, capable of pushing a big-gear tempo over a long distance, while M. Counegôt was smaller and could fly up the côtes. One day, Beaunen challenged Counegôt to a race, to the distant town of Bastogne. Counegôt, always loving a challenge or at least an excuse to ride his beloved bike, agreed and the friends put five francs on the outcome.

Beaunen chose a pretty straightforward route to Bastogne, 95km over the rolling terrain, but avoiding most of the longer climbs. The two rode together most of the way, but the steady crosswinds wore Counegôt down, and Beaunen dropped his friend with 5km to go to win the race.

The next morning, refreshed from a night in a local inn, the two set off back toward Liège. Counegôt congratulated his friend on the previous day's victory: "Chapeau, mon ami. It was a good race. But today I think we should have a rematch. Double or nothing," Counegôt offered, eyeing the hills rising up from the horizon. "Only this time, I will be the one to choose the course."

And with that, a great race template was born.

Well, that's how I heard it anyway...