The organisers of the Three days of de Panne (Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde) have vented their frustrations against fellow organisers Flanders Classics after the latter requested the same spot in the 2018 calendar for Dwars door Vlaanderen.
The three-day race, which began in 1977, has long taken place in the week running up to the Tour of Flanders, beginning on the Tuesday and ending on Thursday. However, Flanders Classics – which organises the Tour of Flanders – wants their own race to feature during that week. Dwars door Vlaanderen was one of 10 races promoted to WorldTour status for the 2017 season. It has traditionally featured the Wednesday before de Panne, but the organisers want to bring it together with their main showpiece.
Former winners of the Three days of De Panne include Johan Museeuw, Peter Van Petegem and Michele Bartoli. It no longer attracts the same line-ups that it once did but its position in the days leading up to the Tour of Flanders means that it can still bring the likes of Alexander Kristoff and Niki Terpstra. Organisers Veloclub de Panne, fear that moving Dwars door Vlaanderen will be detrimental to their race, as would moving to a different date.
"For over forty years we organise in the week before the Tour of Flanders, and we want to keep this way for a long time, even though Flanders Classics will take our date. Changing or modifying date cannot be imposed unilaterally by one party," spokesman Johan Van Hecke told the Belga news agency. "We strived to embed the Flemish races in cycling for years, but not at the expense of our stage race. We are not asking, and we certainly do not agree with Flanders Classics on exchanging our date with Dwars door Vlaanderen. We want to maintain our three-day stage race ahead of the Tour of Flanders in 2018."