Archive for April 21, 2009

Arrow on Target/Flèche Wallonne

Posted in Spring Classics on April 21, 2009 by bethleasure

36“The focus is on entering the village, on concentrating hard on the last bend, to the right, the landmark that pinpoints the onset of the suffering.”        

Christian Prudhomme, Tour de France Director on The Walloon Arrow


fleche1This landmark is a modest church spire that marks the uphill finish of La Flèche Wallonne. This first of the Ardennes classics is in Wallonia, Belgium’s southern racing region. The glory of the place is in its undulation – lovely short continual montagne russe, roller coaster hills, some quite steep. These mini-mountains of the Ardennes have been fought over numerous times in history causing the greater area to be called “the battlefield of Europe.” Controlled by city-states and external powers, each brought their influences upon the culture and language. Now the world’s best riders embark on the last foray here in the heartland or pays des vallees. La Flèche courses through its low country again and again to create a sawtooth race profile of exemplary difficulty from start to finish. Features of northern classics, such as cobbles and bergs are left behind to new challenges in unrelenting pace up côte and mur. Like the northern classics, these Ardennes classics share a critical need for awareness, technique and fitness in the fight for positioning. Every rider gets a quiver of arrows, flames of strength to fire upon the course. The key to utilizing one’s weapons is to be on target. The most targeted arrow strikes on Mur de Huy, the fortress wall to scale for one of cycling’s most painful final kilometers. One’s approach here is as strategic as the slopes which hid troops and armaments from enemy lines in historical wars. On Napoloeon’s unexpected defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Duke of Wellington said, 37“The nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life.” The terrain retains this timeless ability to separate would-be kings of the hills from munitions of arrows shot as near misses, and history repeats itself.


Prayer for Flèche Wallonne

“I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target.” 381 Samuel 20:20


We are amazed at the disciplined use of positioning power displayed by conquerors of all-time. We confess we overestimate our defense arsenal. We ask blessing upon La Flèche Wallonne. Diè wade, God Keep You.     Ponder Am I sure where to place myself in the peloton’s leading arrowhead? Affirm I know the target of each ride. Watch for the features of course or competitor to hit a bull’s eye for the win.


36Flèche Wallonne Editorial, “A Climbing Contest,” by Christian Prudhomme ASO promotes the Tour de France as well as Flèche Wallonne.


37Wikiquote:Wellington citing Creevey Papers, ch. x, p. 236


38The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society