Monday, March 19, 2012

Reason 20: The "New Logic" in route planning has some scary implications.

"If the new route is succesful, the Ronde could set an example for all one 
day classics. To race from A to B doesn't have much longevity no more" -The director of Flanders Classics, Wouter Vandenhaute

 If the quote above does not literally scare the living shit out of you then I do not know what will.  

I mount my soapbox now. Check out the similarity in look and feel between Amstel and Flanders below. Kind of wild. Amstel really has no choice to organize the race as they do, because they race in an area the size of a postage stamp. But for other classics to adopt an "up the same climb multiple times" philosophy, I believe, puts in jeopardy what so many of us love about point to point racing. That being the varied nature of the route and the inability to know exactly what is coming next under racing conditions. When riders race up the same climb multiple times in the same race they become accustomed to it and understand it better and therefore the course becomes less a factor than the condition of the rider. Some may argue that the point is indeed to find the best or strongest rider, so who cares where they race in Flanders, just as long as it is still held in Flanders and we maximize fan interaction. However I disagree to some degree here. What makes a Spring Classic great is the ability for the rider to conquer not only the other riders, but also conquer a course that engages the geography to the maximum, fans be damned. Consider this absurd comparison to the Tour de France. Why not race the same circuit race in Bordeaux the first 7 days for the sprinters, up and down the Alpe du Huez 7 days in a row, and down the Champs for the final 7 days to finish it off. While that is an extreme exaggeration I feel it makes my point. The course does matter and to repeat yourself is to cheat the venue and reduce the uniqueness of the event which, like it or not, provides part of the romantic attraction of the sport we love.

In all honesty, I will definitely watch this year for sure, and root for Boonen, I will most likely gasp at the insanity of taking on the Paterberg 3 times but as I gasp I will most likely wonder what other 4 climbs could have been added instead of the 2 Oude Kwaremont's and 2 Paterberg's whether or not 2 of those others could have been the Bosberg and Muur.


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