Greg Van Avermaet and Patrick Lefevere appear in bizarre new E3 BinckBank poster

The Belgian Classic has previously caused controversy with its advertisements

The latest poster for E3 BinckBank is another bizarre addition to the catalogue, as Patrick Lefevere and Greg Van Avermaet have appeared in fancy dress.

Belgian Classic E3, which falls on March 27 this year, has drawn criticism in previous years for “being out of touch” after using nude women to advertise the race.

This latest instalment is less controversial but just as strange, as it features a collection of former winners of the one-day race dressed as characters from a popular Belgian sitcom, including Greg Van Avermaet dressed as a character Carmen Waterslaeghers-Vandormael.

The poster also includes Deceuninck – Quick-Step boss Lefevere, as well as retired Classics stars Peter Van Petegem, Johan Museeuw, Freddy Maertens and Eddy Planckaert.

Last year E3 BinckBank, formerly known as E3 Harelbeke, unveiled a poster for the 2019 event which featured two women wearing only body paint lying on top of each other to form a frog.

The picture, accompanied by the strap line ‘Who shall crown himself prince in Harelbeke?, attracted criticism for being “out of touch campaigning". The 2019 edition of the event was won by Quick-Step's Zdenek Štybar.

Before that, in 2015 the marketing images for the race feature a rider about to grab a woman’s exposed bum, with that image later being taken down.

The UCI responded to the controversial poster, saying: “The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) was extremely unhappy with the promotional poster of the 2015 E3 Harelbeke.”

“We have reminded the organiser of its responsibility and the UCI Regulations and they have agreed to take off the poster from all communication platforms.”

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In 2016, the poster featured a priest, with the tag line ‘cycling is holy, winning is sacred’, whilst 2017 shocked us all with a baby covered in tattoos, one reading ‘mommy’s rebel’.

Last year’s race featured a cowboy – with the tag line ‘who will be the sheriff of the Texas of Flanders?’-  and was supported by female dancers in ‘cowgirl’ outfits.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.