Out on the bike this morning with the winner of the 1980 edition of the 3 Days of De Panne, a race that is currently taking place I heard an unusual story about an unusual visitor to the peleton one year during the race.
The Belgian race is designed for hard men and good bike handlers. Going from big wide open main roads to very narrow lanes and back can cause much consternation within the bunch.
As riders jostle for position with much pushing and shoving crashes become inevitable.
Back in a time where Peter Sagan might not have considered trying to gift a stage win to a team-mate, where each of the 4 stages were fought for with the aggression and competitiveness of a one day classic, riders feared crashes but feared loosing even more.
With much fewer crowd control barriers at the race compared to the likes of The Tour de France spectators get much closer to the riders, which also adds to the danger and probably the atmosphere too.
One day when the bunch was at ‘full gas’ everyone was fighting for position when suddenly a small white blur of fluff appeared in the middle of the peleton. Kelly saw the small poodle in time and managed to just avoid an impact with the small dog.
Riding behind Kelly, Dirk De Wolf was not as fortunate.
The big Belgian Classics rider and winner of the 1992 Liege Bastogne Liege never even saw the animal until it was inches from his front wheel. Everything happened so fast that he just closed his eyes and hoped for the best.
Not sure what he had just impacted he approached the rider ahead and asked ‘What was that I just hit ?’
Out in the wild the wolf will always outlive the poodle. Within the cycling peleton De Wolf outlived the poodle too.