Two years ago, the Lionel of Flanders was born. This spring, Lionel Birnie and Simon Gill head to the heart of the Ardennes to discover the other part of Belgium, Wallonia.
The first episode in the two-part series for Friends of the Podcast focuses on Flèche Wallonne, the midweek race which finishes on the Mur de Huy. They discover there is more to Huy than a steep road, correct a surprising omission from Belgian cycling history and Patrick McGuinness, author of the book Other People’s Countries, helps them get under the skin of Wallonia.
In part two, Lionel and Simon focus on Liège-Bastogne-Liège where they join the Lotto-Soudal team for their pre-race recon ride over the new finale. Professional cycling is surely the only sport where a meet the media appointment is held in a lay-by next to a portable toilet, some recycling bins and a run-down, disused friterie.
Finally, our pair of Walloons set off to ride part of La Doyenne’s course. Despite torrential rain and cold temperatures they kept their whining to a minimum. Find out what a lower division Belgian football club has to do with Eddy Merckx and Liège-Bastogne-Liège and then join us on race day in the Ardennes countryside, all while learning about Wallonia from author and poet Patrick McGuinness.
Lionel of the Ardennes | Part 1
Lionel of the Ardennes | Part 2