E3 is Dead. Long Live E3.

Photo by Tim van Wichelen

If the order of this weekend’s events were reversed – that is to say, if the racing came before the pre-race media posturing from everybody who’s not a bike racer looking to gain a bit of exposure for whatever they’ve got to say – then it would come as a pretty serious surprise that the organizers of the E3 are claiming that Ghent-Wevelgem’s move from the Wednesday before the Ronde to the same weekend as E3 threatens to kill it. From where we were sitting, E3 blew Ghent-Wevelgem out of the water. If this weekend’s racing was E3’s death knell, it was spectacular.

In a sense, the concern for E3 is understandable. Ghent-Wevelgem is a World Tour race, and teams and headline riders may be looking to limit their fatigue in the weekend before Belgium’s Chrismas, The Superbowl, and World Series All Rolled Together Into One Unholy Party – that is to say, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, of course. Faced with a weekend of two major races, they will naturally choose the race that will garner them points toward season-long standings: Ghent-Wevelgem.

However, as this weekend’s racing quite clearly demonstrated, the E3 has the potential to be a far superior race. Its bergs are more numerous, closely packed, and are clustered closer to the finish line, thus approximating the Ronde. In comparison, Ghent-Wevelgem’s parcours usually features a more humane arrangement of hills and a long and flat (albeit frequently crosswindy) drag to the finish that, as this weekend’s race showed, offers a peloton the opportunity to suck up the day’s final breakaway. It’s not to say that Ghent-Wevelgem is an easy or boring race – but E3’s better.

Fabian Cancellara’s impressive victory at E3 this past weekend could, of course, both prove our point and help the E3 maintain its profile. If Cancellara goes on to another year of success at the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix, riders focusing on those two races in subsequent years may choose the E3 over Ghent-Wevelgem. It may be too soon to declare the death of E3.

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7 Responses to E3 is Dead. Long Live E3.

  1. Gadi says:

    you'r missing an "g" over the second sentence in the second paragraph ……:may be looki to limit

  2. Mattio says:

    Thanks, Gadi. Our writers (a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters) occasionally make mistakes.

  3. Gadi says:

    Well , I totally agree with what has been said about the E3 and the comparison between the two races – the E3 was much more fun to watch (while staying connected to your chat …..) , but I thought to myself how much of a lazy rider is Spartacus for if he was not , maybe he could have challenged some stage races – wasn't Big Mig and Mr. Eddy built the same way ?!

  4. Joe says:

    Spot on, G-W was a snooze, and E3 rocked.

  5. big jonny says:

    Following the current reasoning to the next logical step, in my opinion, is the question of whether Ghent was better suited on Wednesday? I'm leaning toward a yes, as it spread the effort (and therefore opportunities for explosive racing) over a greater period of time than back-to-back days. Now, really, teams (and athletes) must choose one to concentrate on (or even participate in) between the two. Of note, years ago both LBL and Fleche were on the same weekend, Le Weekend Ardennais, I wonder what the general consensus is on whether those two events were greater joined together in such manner? I would imagine people think the LBL and Fleche only improved with disassociation. Thoughts?

  6. Touriste-Routier says:

    Maybe the E3 can evolve. Not all events need to be Pro Tour in order to be successful, hard fought, or popular with racers and fans alike.

    The key for them is if they can keep attracting sponsors, TV, and an audience. Teams can split the baby, sending different riders to each event. In the grand scheme of things, there needs to be more hard races with Pro Conti & Conti teams in them as well, in order for the sport to evolve, and for the various calendars to have any meaning.

    With a lower rank from the UCI, they have more control over the teams that participate. I am sure their audience prefers to see An Post Sean Kelly and Skil/Shimano more so than Euskatel. If the audience is there, the sponsors follow suit. I wouldn't write-off the E3 quite yet.

  7. track_standING says:

    Wasn't Ghent-Wevelgem always the wednesday after the Ronde?

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