Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A little military history diversion

This weekend the Spring Classics conclude with Liège-Bastogne-Liège, also known as La Doyenne, or "the oldest." The Classics start with a sprinter's race in Italy, Milan-San Remo, then move to the cobbles of Ronde van Vlaanderen (the Tour of Flanders), Gent–Wevelgem, and Paris-Roubaix (the Hell of the North). The month concludes with the Ardennes Classics: the Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, and finishes with Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Most of these races take place along the Belgian-French border, a region that saw it's share of combat in the 20th century. In sports, it's often poetic to describe competition as war or battle, but it is not very often that the match takes place on an actual battlefield. For many of these bike races, that is exactly the case.

Because he has already described this better than I ever could, I'll just turn it over to Belgian Knee Warmers and his post, The Monuments.

If you should catch L-B-L on the web this weekend, you'll hear a lot of the towns that were key points in Janice Giles' The Damned Engineers, the brilliant account of the 291st Engineers and their impromptu defense against Kampfgruppe Peiper during the Battle of the Bulge.

(John Pierce of Photosport International)

You can find the route for L-B-L here. Compare it to this map of the Battle of the Bulge here, on page 452.

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