De Panne and Dwars door Vlaanderen clash over 2018 dates

Issue could go to court say De Panne organisers

The fight for the mid-week slot ahead of the Tour of Flanders continues to rumble on between the organisers of the Three days of De Panne and Dwars door Vlaanderen. The De Panne organisers have said that they will not rule out court proceedings in an effort to maintain their position in the cycling calendar.

For 41 years, De Panne has been run the week of the Tour of Flanders, taking place between the Tuesday and Thursday with Flanders on the Sunday. In 2015, Alexander Kristoff rode the race prior to his win at the monument a few days later.

Dwars door Vlaanderen has always been held the previous week, following Milan-San Remo. Late last year, organisers of Dwars door Vlaanderen said they wanted it to take place the week later, to bring it in line with the Tour of Flanders, which they also organise. The new date would put it smack in the middle of the De Panne race.

The stage race organisers are furious, as they would be forced to use another date. "We've been at that date for 41 years," organizer Bruno Dequeecker told Het Nieuwsblad. "That's pure tradition. I do not see how another operator in the same country, the same region and the same type of race suddenly can claim our date."

He will protest to both the UCI and the Belgian federation, and, "If necessary, we do not exclude that we will go to court."

The show-down is one between two major actors in the Belgian race scene. As of next year, De Panne will be organised by sports marketer Golazo, which also is responsible for the Eneco Tour and the Baloise Belgium Tour. Dwars door Vlaanderen is put on by Flanders Classics, which also does the Tour of Flanders, Gent Wevelgem and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Dwars door Vlaanderen was moved to WorldTour status this year, and according to Het Nieuwsblad, both the UCI and the Federation have unofficially approved the change of dates.

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