One-day men's and one-day women's race for Flemish Cycling Week opener
In the confusing world of cycling where the Four Days of Dunkirk is six days long, it should be no surprise that the Three Days of De Panne has been reduced to just one day in 2018.
The race has been a staple of the spring calendar in Belgium since the 1970s, usually taking place in the week between Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders, but has moved a week earlier this year.
Organisers of the race had intended to kick things off on Tuesday, March 20 with a “Sprint Challenge”, which would have seen riders compete over a short circuit around the coastal towns of De Panne and Koksijde. However Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad now reports that a lack of interest from top teams has seen the event cancelled.
“So far, there doesn’t seem to be enough interest in the peloton for this new concept,” said organiser Nick Van Den Bosch.
“We would get little benefit from a competition in which the important teams and riders would not be present. We saw the Sprint Challenge as a warm-up, but it is not yet popular in the peloton.”
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Instead the Three Days of De Panne will instead consist of two one-day races, with the men racing 200km between Bruges and De Panne on Wednesday, March 21, and the women racing on a similar route of 145km the following day. Both races will feature cobbled sectors
The new spot in the calendar sees De Panne taking the place of Dwars Door Vlaanderen in the men’s calendar, taking place two days ahead of E3 Harelbeke and four days before Ghent-Wevelgem, now taking its place as the opening of Flemish Cycling Week.
Dwars Door Vlaanderen has now moved to the Wednesday between Ghent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders, effectively swapping places with De Panne.
Philippe Gilbert won the 2017 edition of the Three Days of De Panne, using it as preparation for a spectacular 55km solo victory at the Tour of Flanders.