Today comes word that the venerable Ronde van Vlaanderen warmup act, Three
Dogs Days of De Panne, will head out to a destiny that will reverberate in every living Flemish soul. And a few non-living ones too. Here's the map.
Yep, the mic drop of parcours features. De Muur van F--ing Geraardsbergen. Why? Because it's there. And it's as pointy as ever, apparently.
What Does This Mean?
I'm sure you have lots of questions, if your mind is functioning at all. I'm here to help. Can I answer a question for you?
Yeah, What Does This Mean?
It means that de Muur is a part of the first stage of 3daagse, possibly even a decisive one. Mind you, there is no roadbook yet at the official website, so it's anyone's guess as to whether they go all the way up the Kappelmuur, the modern version of the Muur, or if they veer off beforehand as De Ronde once did before it reached absolute perfection. My guess is yes, because why not? And if so, it should make a big difference in that day's proceedings.
But ... Is It Back?
Tougher question. I'm counseling caution here. For starters, Driedaagse is NOT, repeat NOT, part of the Flanders Classics Trilateral Commission that mysteriously runs all of the important elements of Belgian Classic races. It's run by Veloclub De Panne, independently of any other race, and as such its organizers do not have the power of life and death in their hands. It's more like an outsider move, lobbing a lit torch against the castle wall.
Yeah OK, But Seriously.
Alright, I will say this. The race's inclusion does a couple things that cannot and should not be overlooked. First, it serves as a reminder of just how important the Muur is to Belgian cycling fans, and their like-minded international friends. It will not stop being awesome at us, ever, until the new Ronde course is dead. Will that take a while? Yes, because the people in charge of the race are... the people in charge of the race, and if they want to just make money off VIP tents on the Paterberg, then I don't see anyone who can stop them. Well, maybe the government of Belg... no. I can't.
Anyway, the other thing it does is demonstrates how easy it is for a bike race to receive a lot more publicity simply by going up the Muur. ENECO organizers have done this for a while. It shouldn't be long before the Tour de France decides to poke FC by doing the same (early on in a week-one stage, when it can be ridden calmly). It's all part of exploiting our love for the slope... and shaming FC in the process for their poor choices.
Does this get the Muur back into the Tour of Flanders? Not really, not just like that. But it does more to help than not sending Driedaagse de Panne here. Every bit helps.